Biztech Sep 21, 2012
In October 2011, the Government of India submitted a proposal for establishment of a new institutional mechanism for global internet governance by way of the United Nations Committee on Internet Related Policy (UN-CIRP). The UN-CIRP’s mandate will include inter alia tasks such as developing and establishing international public policies relating to global issues of Internet; coordinating and overseeing bodies responsible for the technical and operational functioning of the internet; facilitating negotiation of treaties, conventions and agreements on Internet related public policy; address developmental issues, promote and protect human rights, including the right to development; undertake arbitrations and dispute resolution where necessary and crisis management.
Virat Bhatia, Chairman, Communication and Digital Economy Committee, FICCI, stated that Indian Government’s decision on this issue had triggered a debate in the country and put a question mark on the proposal which was submitted in the UN. The debate deliberated on whether India’s stand is justified or not? Whether it was ethical to take a stand of this magnitude without informing the stakeholders and many more such questions were raised and answered during the meeting.
Discussions and debate on the issue of Internet governance has increased over the past few years. The entire issue of Internet governance has become strikingly important for the internet users, Government, Indian industry, mobile and Internet service providers, Internet companies, social media, civil society, academia as well as youth and women on account of the fact that internet subscriber base has already reached the 125 million mark, and is expected to increase dramatically under the targets established in NTP 2012. Unlike in telecommunications, issues related to internet and data penetration requires not just discussion between government and service providers but cooperation and dialogue amongst a host of other stakeholders – commonly known as Multistakeholder Groups.
Nitin Desai, Special Adviser to UN Secretary General on Internet Governance and Former Chairman of Multistakeholder Advisory Group for Internet Governance Forum, stated that the world is facing a situation where Internet is threatening the security of nations and thus a regulatory body is necessary. “We need to protect the functionality of the Internet so that the cyber space is not misused,” he added.
Ambassador A Gopinathan, India’s former Permanent Representative to UN in Geneva, was of the view that the governance model which India is advocating is multilateral, transparent and democratic in nature. The government is in no way taking away the right to expression from its people. It is only trying to oversee the activities on Internet to avoid any unfortunate incident.
Rajeev Chandrashekhar, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha, opposed the UN-CIRP which India is supporting. He said, “CIRP is an unacceptable proposition. It is very intrusive and will only distort things further”, and added that “cyber security issue is a very small part of CIRP and there are better ways to beef up the security of the country than CIRP. By supporting UN-CIRP we will allow the UN to control what we access through Internet. Also CIRP is not helping internet penetration in India in any way.”
Dr. Govind, Head of Department, E-Infrastructure & Internet Governance Division, Department of Electronics & IT, Government of India, remarked that there is a need to have a mechanism globally to address the Internet governance policies, excluding the technical and operational functioning of Internet.
The panelists also included Dr. Kamlesh Bajaj, CEO, DSCI; Parminder Jeet Singh, Executive Director, IT for Change; Sunil Abraham, Executive Director, Center for Internet and Society; Dr. Mahesh Uppal, Adviser, Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI); Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, President, Foundation for Media Professional; Naresh Ajwani, Member, NRO NC-Asia Pacific Network Information Center (APNIC) and Vikram Tiwathia, Associate Director General, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI).
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