India on Thursday questioned the control of U.S. contracted entities over critical Internet resources like allocation of domain names and pointed out that the current system needed to be revitalised to make the global Internet governance regime truly “multilateral, transparent and democratic.”

“The present system cannot really be reflective of the international character or community of Internet users. This cannot really be said to be truly representative or reflective of the international character or community of Internet users,’’ Deputy National Security Advisor Nehchal Sandhu said at a seminar here on “Internet to Equinet – Empowering a Billion Online,’’ organised by FICCI.

As an open, pluralistic and democratic society, India recognised and valued the bottom-up nature of the Internet and wanted all stakeholders to be involved in its global governance. “India is committed to protecting, preserving and safeguarding freedom of expression and Internet freedom and to strengthening them. Towards this end, India considers that the current system needs to be revitalised to make the global internet governance regime truly ‘multilateral, transparent and democratic’,” Mr. Sandhu said.

Under the existing institutional architecture for Internet governance, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) performed two functions – the Internet Assigned Names Authority (IANA), whereby it controlled entries to the authoritative Root Zone File of the Internet, and secondly the management of the Domain Name System (DNS), including the allocation of Top Level Domain (TLD) names, he said.

The technical standards were set by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the central elements of the Internet's logical infrastructure like the Critical Internet Resource, was managed by a private entity under contractual arrangements with the U.S. government. “India will work with those who wish to build and strengthen the global Internet governance regime into a multilateral, transparent and democratic mechanism. The equal opportunity and assured access requires equitable distribution of resources and representative management of the Internet not only in the national sphere but also at the global level,’’ he said.

Mr. Sandhu, a former chief of the Intelligence Bureau, said there was an urgent need to formulate globally co-ordinated, inclusive and coherent Internet policies. “In the absence of an integrated and holistic global policy, States are adopting diverse and often contradictory national policies on new and emerging issues such as net neutrality, social networking sites, search engines, role of Internet intermediaries and cyber-terrorism.’’

In cyber security, India followed a mixed approach and exhaustive consultations were held with stakeholders, and the results thereof were factored into possible approaches that the government might take. “Every such step of the government to enhance cyber security is, however, conditioned by our commitment to drawing a balance between the immutable liberal democratic principles enshrined in our Constitution and the imperatives of ensuring safety and security of our citizens which is the primary duty of any government,’’ he said.

Correction

In “Deputy NSA questions U.S. control over critical Net resources” (Oct. 18, 2013), the full form of ICANN was given as International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. It should have been Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.

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