ICANN and India’s stake in it
⇒ ICANN: ICANN stands for Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. ICANN is responsible for the coordination of the global Internet's systems of unique identifiers and, in particular, ensuring its stable and secure operation.
⇒ Domain Name System: The Domain Name System (DNS) is a hierarchical distributed naming system for computers, services, or any resource connected to the Internet or a private network. It associates various information with domain names assigned to each of the participating entities. It translates easily memorized domain names to the numerical IP addresses needed for the purpose of locating computer services and devices worldwide. By providing a worldwide, distributed keyword-based redirection service, the Domain Name System is an essential component of the functionality of the Internet.
⇒ Domain Name: A domain name (for instance, "example.com") is an identification string that defines a realm of administrative autonomy, authority, or control on the Internet. Domain names are formed by the rules and procedures of the Domain Name System (DNS). Any name registered in the DNS is a domain name. Domain names are used in various networking contexts and application-specific naming and addressing purposes. In general, a domain name represents an Internet Protocol (IP) resource.
WHAT IS THE ISSUE ?
⇒ Internet governance means the way in which you manage internet.
⇒ Now we all know that internet is not owned by anybody. But it is also true that it is largely controlled by USA due to ICANN.
⇒ Due to the recent surveillance programs of USA, many countries have been demanding the right to control internet which is available in their country.
⇒ India too wants the same. But a country like India wants it for security purpose while global powers like Russia & China wants it to have for showing their super power nature & consolidate their state suppressive apparatus by denying the access to internet.
USA AND ICANN
Under the ‘Affirmation of Commitments’ between the ICANN and the U.S.A. , the ICANN committed that it would not shift outside of the U.S. without the permission of U.S. government and the process of Internet management would be led by private sector.
ONGOING DEBATE ON INTERNET GOVERNANCE AT THE ITU
⇒ Various arguments have been put forth in the various meetings at the ITU for the expanded role being demanded by various countries over the internet which is for now being controlled by USA alone.
⇒ China & Russia are very close in the race to win the control over internet with USA.
WCIT-12 & WTPF-13
⇒ WCIT stands for World Conference on International Telecommunications.
⇒ WTPF stands for World Telecommunication/ICT Policy Forum (WTPF-13)
⇒ WCIT 12 was held in Dubai (December 2012) & WTPF was held in Switzerland (May 2013).
⇒ WCIT-12 demonstrated the growing power, energy, and organisation of countries seeking fundamental changes to international internet policymaking and it ensured these debates would continue at future meetings.
⇒ WTPF-13 produced six non-binding “Opinions” addressing promotion of broadband deployment, facilitation of a smooth IPv6 transition, and further development of representative multi-stakeholder processes.
⇒ A key topic of discussion at WPTF-13, however, was a seventh Opinion – promoted by Brazil – on “operationalsing the role of governments in the multi-stakeholder model for internet governance. (Which means that government involvement be increased in the case of internet)
⇒ Though Brazil’s point was not accepted at WPTF, it was supported by many countries and hence, Brazil even put this issue at the ITU though in a changed form from multi-stakeholder to multilateral decision making.
THE GLOBALIZATION OF ICANN
⇒ ICANN is an independent, U.S.-based organization that acts as a phone book for the Internet. It coordinates the names and addresses of sites globally to ensure that computers know to find each other online.
⇒ That means whenever you write some website name in the browser & hit enter it is actually linked to some address which is in numerical form. Remembering this address is very hard & hence, ICANN was the one invented the methods of linking a website name & the address.
⇒ But as ICANN is located in USA, it is highly getting criticized on the ground that it is controlled more by USA only & other countries have no say in it.
⇒ So, indirectly internet is being controlled by USA alone.
⇒ But ICANN in order to reflect its global character, has split its headquarters (main headquarter is Los Angeles) with three offices worldwide: 1) Istanbul 2) Turkey 3) Singapore
⇒ The opening of the ICANN regional offices is an effort to better serve the global constituency it represents.
Electronic Surveillance Disclosures
⇒ Many news recently came in of electronic surveillance done by USA.
⇒ This issue raised a number of issues.
⇒ Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff addressed the UN General Assembly complaining about alleged surveillance and calling for the UN to take a leading role “in the effort to regulate the conduct of states” with regard to ICTs and also espoused the creation of new “multilateral mechanisms for the worldwide network”.
VIEWS OF USA
⇒ Internet freedom is one of the pillars of the USA’s foreign policy.
⇒ It will defend the freedom of internet at all costs. (i.e. by keeping controlling rights over internet only with USA)
⇒ The current proposal to transfer control of internet to United Nations (UN), would give too much power to UN.
⇒ If UN gets control over internet it will lead to increased censorship and a dramatic reduction in anonymity.
THE REAL DEBATE
⇒ The real debate is whether to have an open global Internet or a "patchwork of national Intranets.
⇒ It is also being debated that control be shifted to UN & allow individual nations to manage the Internet addresses in their own territories.
⇒ Countries are demanding more sovereign control over web addresses.
⇒ The threat is that if every country were allowed to manage their own Internet address books, sites seen as troublesome by the governments could be easily — and silently — eliminated by removing them from the index and making them permanently inaccessible to the outside world.
⇒ Governments already have powerful tools at their disposal — namely, regulatory authority over telecommunications companies (for example China’s control on internet) — that give them a lever for crippling the Internet when so desired. Then why they need extra control on internet ?
Why India is worried ?
⇒ India was allowed to have root servers (computers through which all internet data originating or coming to a particular country passes through) in India but no management of the same was given. No control and management of these servers is allowed.
⇒ Such policy is of no use to India. For India’s security reasons, India needs control over them.
⇒ India is worried on the proximity of China, USA & Russia on deciding over internet governance.
⇒ India thinks that these countries would come out with a strategy & that will ultimately be forced upon countries. So, India is raising voices & its demands so that all the Indian concerns are met before formulation of any plan.
⇒ India favours a pre-dominantly multilateral approach (every country be given a power to say on this issue) on issues related to Internet governance rather than multi-stakeholder approach (only some countries allowed to talk on the issue) which is mainly being advocated by the West.
⇒ India has third largest Internet users in the world at over 15 crore, only after China (56 crore) and the U.S. (25 crore).
RECENT MEETING OF THE INTERNET TECHNICAL ORGANIZATIONS
⇒ Recently, a meeting was held of the internet technical organizations (which include ISOC, ICANN, IAB/IETF, IANA, the 5 Regional Internet Registries (RIRs), and W3C).
⇒ It issued a statement this year known as Montevideo Statement on the Future of Internet Cooperation.
⇒ High-level points from the Montevideo Statement include:
1. Importance of globally coherent Internet operations
2. Concern over Internet fragmentation at a national level
3. Strong concern over pervasive monitoring and surveillance
4. Ongoing need to address Internet Governance challenges
5. Need for evolution of global multistakeholder Internet cooperation
6. Need for globalization of ICANN and IANA functions
7. Need to allow all stakeholders (including governments) to participate equally
8. Need for the transition to IPv6 to remain a top priority globally