After Bucharest, What Should India do?



The Bucharest meeting of ICANN can be identified as an important turning point in the history of Internet Governance. (I-Governance). It has reversed the earlier movement of management by a "Bottoms up" democratic approach to a more centralized approach.

In the days to come therefore, ICANN will be an organization that will be managed by identifiable interest groups. It is possible that the US Government can start wielding more influence and gradually take over  the decision making capability of the ICANN through an indirect NomCom approach.

Some of the national Governments who seem to have been actively involved in the ICANN process at present may also get their foot into the management. China has already been one of the keen followers of the process and the next ICANN meeting is taking place in Shanghai in October 2002.

Under the circumstances, we need to ask ourselves, the question "Where Does India Stand in the I-Governance Administration?".

The development of Internet in India was largely due to the initiatives taken by VSNL when it was a public sector organization and a monopoly service provider of International Communications. It was therefore the only authority in India which was concerned with the I-Governance issues in the past. Now with the privatization of the Internet and the emergence of other ISP s with large market shares, such as SIFY and Dishnet, VSNL has lost the accountability on the issue of protecting Indian interests in the I-Governance.

The second institution that became involved in the I-Governance issues was the NCST which happens to be the cc TLD registrar in India. Judging by the progress made in the domain name registrations of the dot in category, it can be said that NCST has also been pre occupied with many other functions and is not devoting full attention to the I-Governance matter.

The ministry of Science and Technology or the DOT may not consider this domain as their responsibility.

This leaves the Nasscom as an organization that should take interest in the matter. The indications are at present does not seem to indicate that Nasscom has considered this as a priority.

When the Information Technology Act- 2000 was conceived, the Controller became the highest official involved in the regulation of Cyber Space activities in India. However, unlike the South African law (ECT-2002), the domain name space regulation was not brought within the purview of the Controller.

As a result of these developments, there is no organized structure available in India to represent the interests involved in the I-Governance matters. The participation of the Indian Government or the ISP s in India in the Bucharest meeting was therefore conspicuous by absence.

If India has to participate in the I-Governance process before the Shanghai meet in October 2002 and also bid for future ICANN meetings, it is necessary for the Indian authorities to wake up and start acting immediately. The major ISP s such as VSNL, SIFY, Dishnet and also NCST and Nasscom should come together to contribute in this regard.

We may recall that the Communication Convergence Bill effectively deals with a similar dilemma with the suggestion of a "Spectrum Committee" and a "Spectrum Manager".

We now need to explore whether we need a "Domain Space Manager" and an "I-Governance Committee" for India to focus on the requirements of I Governance. It must be remembered that when the new IP address allocations become due when IPV 6 comes into being, there will be need to protect our needs of IP addresses since in the Convergence era, there will be a large demand for IP address allocations from the Communication devices and if this is not ensured, the business potential may get affected.

Naavi has mooted an idea for an organization in this respect and some initial work is in process to set up a forum that represents the interests of the Netizens vis-a-vis ICANN. But what is required is for thee individual initiatives to be supported by the Corporate and Government sector so that they can be effective in the international scenario.

I therefore urge the Ministry of Communication Technology to immediately appoint a committee to examine the issues involved and take up a concrete proposal for representation of Indian interests in ICANN.

I also urge major IT and ISP companies to come forward to mobilize efforts in this direction. Naavi would be willing to provide any support required at his individual level.


 July 05,  2002

Related Article:

ICANN Adopts the Nomcom Approach of Governance
ICANN Proposes Grace Period for Domain Name Renewals/Booking
Preliminary Report of the ICANN Board Meeting at Bucharest
ERC Blueprint for Reform,

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