‘India needs to improve its role in internet governance’

Our Bureau Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on January 19, 2018

Governing internet is a complex, challenging task: expert

Internet governance is an area where India can, and should, significantly improve its role, presence and influence given the fact it has a large community of internet users.

An even larger community here would start using it in the next several years, according to Satish Babu, chair, Internet Society, Thiruvananthapuram chapter.

He is also vice chair of the Asia-Pacific Regional At-Large Organisation of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

Complex task

Babu was speaking on ‘Recent developments in Internet governance’ at a function held at the Institution of Engineers here.

The function was organised by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers-Kerala section; Institution of Engineers (India); Computer Society of India; Aeronautical Society of India; the Institute of Electronics and Telecommunications Engineers; and the Project Management Institute.

Governing internet is a complex and challenging task given its globally distributed nature, lack of centralised authority, jurisdictional issues, diversity of stakeholders and services and plurality of content.

Formal roles

Although the multilateral model - loosely structured on the basis of UN system - had been proposed, it is the multi-stakeholder model that is accepted today as the most appropriate, Babu said.

Here, all stakeholders - businesses, governments, research institutions, non-government organisations and civil society - are given formal roles in the governance process.

It is thus possible for any user of the Internet located anywhere on earth to provide his or her inputs to the Internet policy and governance processes.

The US government is in the process of relinquishing control that it had enjoyed since the founding of the Internet in the late 70s, Babu noted.

Transition process

This process aims at transferring the nominal control by US Government of the Internet numbers (for instance the IP addresses and protocol parameters underlying Internet communications), to ICANN, a global, not-for-profit, multi-stakeholder entity.

The transition is currently under way, and after it is completed around September 2016, the US Government will not have any special privileges over the Internet, making it a truly multi-stakeholder controlled entity.

It is expected that by ensuring that all stakeholders have similar negotiating powers, the operating principles of the Internet, will continue to be upheld.

Net neutrality

Neutral treatment of all content on the Internet is an essential prerequisite for fostering ‘permissionless innovation,’ which is one of the guiding principles of the Internet, Babu said.

Permissionless Innovation allows anyone to deliver a service to the global community of Internet users, without the need for permission from any central authority.

Well-known examples include Google, Amazon and FaceBook, where entrepreneurs – many of them students – went on to build global organisations, starting out with little more than a dream.

No other medium in the history of humankind has had such potential and global reach as the Internet,

According to Babu, it was unfortunate to see practices such as zero rating went to restrict net neutrality and challenged the unified global nature of the Internet.

Published on January 03, 2016

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