Building Network Trust for Effective Governance of Tech Protocols

11 Sep 2023

Dr. Pramod Varma, the Chief Architect of Aadhaar & India Stack, CTO EkStep Foundation, and the co-chair at the Centre for Digital Public Infrastructure (CDPI), at the Governance for Data Empowerment workshop co-hosted by Sahamati and Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, explained the evolution of computing, from mainframes to interconnected global networks. This relentless progression toward a more connected and user-friendly digital world has been catalyzed by smartphones and human-centric interfaces, increasing accessibility and inclusivity.

Dr. Pramod Varma’s discussion on the governance of tech protocols addressed the pivotal role of citizens in shaping the digital landscape. He advocated for a fundamental shift towards citizen-centric governance, stressing that the focus should not solely be on institutions or regulators. Instead, the key is to place individuals at the heart of these critical discussions.

Dr. Varma pointed towards the transformative power of computing and decentralization. With smartphones becoming ubiquitous, the locus of computing has shifted to individuals, ushering in a new era of data storage, consent management, and transactions. This shift presents a forward-thinking trend that heralds a paradigm shift in governance and technological utilization.

He delved into the concept of peer-to-peer transactions, which demands a mental shift from centralized to decentralized thinking. Dr. Varma emphasized that unbundling transaction chains will lead to the emergence of various stakeholders, which requires a building block approach. This approach enables customized solutions and emphasizes the critical role of trust in decentralized networks. He advocated leveraging technology to foster effective governance, integrating policies-as-code into protocols.

Further, he expounded on the challenges centralized networks and facilitators face, which can be diluted by adopting a network governance model. This model aims to decentralize governance, ensuring that governance APIs complement technical interoperability. Dr. Varma cautions against embedding purpose codes in protocols, advocating for decision-making to prioritize individual empowerment.

In conclusion, Dr. Pramod Varma’s discourse highlights the urgency of reimagining governance in the digital age, where citizens are central and decentralization is paramount. This shift necessitates innovative solutions, trust-building mechanisms, and a networked approach to governance for effective and ethical tech protocol management.

Listen to Dr Varma speak about network trust here. This workshop was co-hosted by Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy and Sahamati. Check out the link for more speakers and their blogs: