India may dilute stand on Net control

Adith Charlie Mumbai | Updated on October 21, 2014

Will back multi-stakeholder approach instead of seeking full governmental control

India could dilute its stance on the issue of who will control the Internet by supporting participation from the private sector and civil society alongside governments.

A note prepared by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) proposes backing for the popular view on a multi-stakeholder approach to Internet Governance.

This is a departure from the earlier stand where India had argued that only governments, working through international organisations like the United Nations and International Telecommunications Union, have the legitimacy to make decisions regarding the internet.

In a note to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), seen by BusinessLine, the DeitY said that India should move towards a multi-stakeholder governance model on issues related to the World Wide Web. The move comes as India finds itself isolated on the issue with only a few countries, such as Russia, supporting the earlier stand.

Security rider

However, though the DeitY has recommended a change, it has suggested that Governments should have primacy when it comes to matters of security.

“We need to leverage our strengths of industry, human resources and market to frame our position on matters relating to Internet governance. This would require greater acceptance of a multi-stakeholder approach, especially for development, social, technical and economic considerations,” DeiTY said in the note.

India has been clamouring for a strong state presence in the decision-making process of internet governance. This multilateral approach is seen as a means for Governments to get larger control over cyber space.

However, Indian government officials have been compelled to re-evaluate the position after Brazil took the limelight by hosting an international event called ‘Net Mundial’ on April 23 and 24.

“Brazil has seized the opportunity to become a globally important player in the internet governance of the world. India’s position of a multilateral process has not … (given) it a leadership position in an evolving scenario. Unless we play a more proactive role … our aim to achieve a significant role in the Internet governance system is unlikely,” the note said.

Looking beyond ICANN

Globally, there is a debate on who should control the working of the Internet. At present, a US-based body called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers or ICANN, governs the broad functioning of the Internet. This body is a multi-stakeholder entity with participation from a number of private entities, consumer groups and industry associations.

In March, the US said that by September 2015 it would give up oversight of ICANN and a new body will be created with representation from all key stakeholders to govern the Internet.

Published on October 21, 2014

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