Overview

Internet governance is an important policy and governance issue that gets attention at the international level. It raises the crucial issue of how the Internet is governed sustainably as a global resource, on how Critical Internet resources such as domain names, IP address needs to be allocated, and on how global DNS infrastructure including Root Server needs to be managed. Cyberspace is regarded by many as global commons, and has been recognized as the fifth domain. Vital for national security, unilateral control of the domain, dominance of privileged groups in controlling key assets, non-transparency in the current governance regime, and exclusion of other countries from global governance of the Internet has the potential to harm commercial, economic and security interests of nations in the long run.

While attempts to improve Internet governance by involving nation-states should be welcome, the important role of the private sector, standards bodies, civil society and academia in the multi-stakeholder approach to governance should be preserved.

Since the first phase of World Summit on Internet Society in 2003, nations have called for a transparent, democratic and multilateral governance of the Internet. Currently, organizations such Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) – an organization incorporated in the state of California, governed by US laws, and accountable to the US Department of Commerce under an agreement to perform Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions, and Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) – responsible for developing protocols, play an important role. While ICANN is responsible for technical operations of root and domain names infrastructure, it also acts as a transnational governance institution that makes global Internet public policies, some of which may infringe upon sovereign interests of the nations.

Issues in Internet Governance

There have been debates globally on whether in its attempts to create new International Telecommunication Rules (ITRs), the ITU trying to control the Internet, and encourage censorship. India has joined countries like US, UK and Canada to oppose government regulation of the Internet at the ITU WCIT meetings at Dubai, concluded on 14th Dec 2012, where new ITRs are being negotiated - the existing ITRs agreed upon in 1988 covered only international telephony.

The issue of Internet governance (IG) was elevated at the global forum post the Snowden revelations. The multi-stakeholder model under unilateral control and oversight of the US government, over the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), coupled with the bottom up approach in policy making and several other issues, echoed across major organizations that are part of IG community. Resultantly, key players involved in various dimensions of Internet operations, namely ICANN, Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), Internet Society (ISOC), Internet Architecture Board (IAB), World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), and Regional Internet Registries (RIRs), expressed intent to decouple themselves from the oversight of the US government and emphasized on multi-stakeholder model of IG. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of DoC of the US government in 2014 announced its intent of transition of oversight over Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions, which is managed by ICANN through a contract.

DSCI has been working as part of the deliberations with key stakeholders. We advocate a multi-stakeholder model for IG, which must be proportional to the Internet population of nations. Consultation and representation of the industry on its views on IG on various forums has been part of our work. We strongly support the view that roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders must be clearly defined for various issues and our work focuses on reviving discussions on various platforms to establish global Internet principles, evolve global norms and treaties for complex subjects such as cyber crime, cyber security, privacy and intellectual property.

DSCI encourages participation of underdeveloped and developing countries on all platforms, by providing the required support, that can help build capacity and bridge the digital divide. We work with the Indian Industry for their active participation in various standard and protocol development organizations such as IEEE, IETF, W3C and ISO to establish thought leadership