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
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
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
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
ICANN Adopts the Nomcom Approach of Governance
ICANN Proposes Grace Period for Domain Name
Preliminary Report of the ICANN Board Meeting at Bucharest
ERC Blueprint for Reform,
can be sent here