Indian government launches the Indigenous Web Browser Development Challenge

This initiative will require web browsers to be developed to cater to a wide range of devices and platforms, incorporating necessary security functionalities and aligning with the most current industry-standard technologies.

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To foster innovation and empower tech aficionados nationwide, the Indian Ministry of Electronics and IT has announced the Indigenous Web Browser Development Challenge (IWBDC), they said in an official press release. This competition calls upon technology enthusiasts, developers, and innovators to design a homegrown web browser.

The novel browser will boast its trust store, complete with an integrated Controller of Certifying Authority license in India. It will also showcase cutting-edge capabilities while prioritizing security and data privacy safeguarding functionalities. Furthermore, the browser should enable the electronic signing of documents through a crypto token, strengthening secure transactions and online engagements.

The initiative’s goals and characteristics were expanded at the launch event on August 9, with cash prizes amounting to ₹34 million (roughly €‎372,000 or $410,000) for successful developers. In the initial round of assessments, 18 submissions will be shortlisted, with eight applicants moving to the next phase. At the culmination of this process, a victor will be crowned and provided support to advance their browser ‘to the next levels,’ although the precise meaning of this term remains undefined.

Why does it matter?

This is not only a homegrown bid to incentivize civil society to develop a web browser but also a step towards asserting Indian technological independence. This may be a worrying sign, with India leading the world in internet shutdowns in a futile attempt to control the circulation of information, disproportionately affecting poor and conflict-ridden communities. The government has clearly stated its desire to avoid foreign takeovers, with majority ownership required to be held by Indian citizens or individuals of Indian origin. The Modi government has also made great strides to bridge the country’s digital divide and bolster the tech-startup environment.