#India – KEEP CALM and #66A ON #censorship #FOE #FOS

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#India changes controversial Internet governance position #FOE #Censorship #FOS #goodnews


Source: Index on Censorship

(Index on Censorship/IFEX) – October 29, 2012 – Following outrage from India’s civil society and media, it appears the country’s government has backed away from its proposal to create a UN body to govern the internet. The controversial plan, which was made without consulting civil society,angered local stakeholders, including academics, media, and industry associations. Civil society expressed fear that a 50-member UN body, many of whom would seek to control the internet for their own political ends, would restrict the very free and dynamic nature of the internet. The proposal envisaged “50 member States chosen on the basis of equitable geographic representation” that would meet annually in Geneva as the UN Committee for Internet-Related Policies (UN-CIRP).

Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Indian parliamentarian and critic of the proposal, said: “CIRP seems like a solution in search of a problem”. At present, ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), a non-profit with ties to the US State Department, serves as the platform for internet governance, using an organisational structure that allows input from the wider internet community and not just governments of the world.

However at the 4-5 October Conference on Cyberspace in Budapest, the Minister of State for Telecom, Sachin Pilot, indicated that India was moving away from the “control of the internet by government or inter-governmental bodies”, and moving instead towards enhanced dialogue. Pilot has now confirmed the change to Index, saying that the Indian government has now decided to “nuance” its former position.

The sudden move can be explained by India’s decision to now develop its own stance, claiming that it was initially just supporting proposals made at the India, Brazil and South Africa seminar (IBSA) on Global Internet Governance in Brazil in September 2011. However, there are indicators that the country might have played an active role in pushing for the new body.

The government representatives present at the IBSA seminar drafted a set of recommendations focused on institutional improvement, which pushed for the UN to establish a body “in order to prevent fragmentation of the internet, avoid disjointed policymaking, increase participation and ensure stability and smooth functioning of the internet”. The proposal was to be tabled until the IBSA Summit on 18 October 2011, but according to a Daily Mail report, Indian bureaucrats publicly discussedthe proposal at the 2011 Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Kenya, saying that the move “was criticised across the board by all countries and scared away both Brazil and South Africa.” The report also alleges that the Indian government only consulted one NGO – IT for Change – in drafting the proposal presented in Brazil, despite repeated offers from other participants to pay for members of the country’s third sector to participate in the seminar. India’s proposed UN-CIRP was slammed for moving away from multi-stakeholderism and instead opting for government-led regulation.

Whatever the truth behind the Indian government’s motives in proposing UN-CIRP, its new and more “nuanced” position is a welcome move. It remains to be seen if India will maintain its new stance at the upcoming IGF, which will be held from 6-9 November in Baku, Azerbaijan.


Govt control on internet: How Indian netizens have won #goodnews



Aug 16, 2012

By Rajeev Chandrasekhar

The Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has supported my stand on the need for consultation with multi-stakeholder groups in India before finalising the stand in UN. He assured that the Government will review its position in the UN and submit a new proposal post consultations with all stakeholders in India. I welcome the government’s plan to hold a consultation on the issue of global Internet governance.

I had taken up this issue in May 2012 and sought a public consultation on this issue through representations and meetings with the Prime Minister, External Affairs Minister and several other senior bureaucrats in the government opposing India’s existing proposal of a Committee for Internet-Related Policy (CIRP) without any prior consultation with multi-stakeholder groups in India.

Dangers of India’s Proposal


India had made statement made at the 66th session of the UN General Assembly in New York on October 26, 2011, proposing government control over the internet through the formation of Committee on Internet Related Policies – CIRP which expected to come up for a discussion on May 18, 2012 in Geneva during the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) meeting on the issue of enhanced cooperation etc.

India’s position enunciated in the statement hurt its reputation of a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and democratic society with an open economy and an abiding culture of pluralism. Further, it hurts the advancement of the internet as a vehicle for openness, democracy, freedom of expression, human rights, diversity, inclusiveness, creativity, free and unhindered access to information and knowledge, global connectivity, innovation and socio-economic growth.

India’s proposal was fundamentally against the interest of 800 million mobile users and over 100 million internet users in India who need to play a continued role by strengthening the existing multi-stakeholder process, rather than moving internet governance to a government-run, inter-governmental, bureaucratically organized system – as proposed by India.

Another, fall out of India’s position was that India’s position is closely associated with countries such as Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Brazil, South Africa and Rwanda etc, none of which is a sparkling example of democracy, free speech, or human rights. Unless the global reporting on this issue is inaccurate, it is clear that we will suffer tremendously by way of our reputation in being seen as associated with such countries on the issue of internet governance and, by extension, freedom of expression and free speech.

The multi-stakeholder groups consultation will go beyond its current stage and involve all stakeholders, including provide specific platforms wherein multi-stakeholder groups can come to face-to-face in meetings or online forums to provide their inputs.

I encourage the youth – school and college students, civil society, academia, private sector and businesses and international organizations to use this opportunity to provide detailed views since their future is at stake – as Internet governance relates to issues of free speech, freedom of expression, privacy, access, and growth of the Internet to reduce barriers, increase employment opportunities, and enhance information amongst communities in India and around the world.

With the Government agreeing to hold public consultations on the matter, is the time for the multi-stakeholder groups to take lead keeping in mind which deserves to play its rightful role at a global level through media such as the Internet. Hope that the government would learn that discussions on the issue of Internet governance cannot be held behind closed doors or with limited groups, and that this will be the beginning of a new paradigm of engaging all citizens in a constant dialogue relating to the future and growth of the Internet.

Coming on the eve of Independence Day, the government’s decision to agree on consultation is small but significant victory for all millions of netizens and those who have fought the last few months to preserve the open, non bureaucratic, non-governmental nature of Internet regulation.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar is a Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha



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