Debate over Internet control in India to happen in Geneva
| by Anuradha Shetty |
A wide-scaled discussion, led by the officials of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development will take place in Geneva and the outcome - whichever way it bends will affect the Internet usage habits of the nation’s 800 million mobile and 100 million Internet users. A report in The Hindu now confirms that the controversy surrounding the topic of excessive state control over the Internet in-line with the IT Rules 2011 will now be discussed at what will be a multi-stakeholder discussion platform in Geneva, later this week. Elaborating further, the report adds that the discussion essentially follows what had been a proposal by the nation to the United Nations General Assembly, to facilitate the government’ control over the Internet, and the discussion will essentially be to discuss about the Internet structures.
The proposal that India sent to the General Assembly in New York on October 26, 2011, not only is one that has come without any consultation with the nation’s 800 million mobile and 100 million Internet stronghold, but also aims to make some major changes. For one, it seeks a dynamic shift from what has been the existing structure - “multi-stakeholder led decision-making, to a purely government-run multilateral body that would relegate civil society, private sector, international organisations as well as technical and academic groups to the fringes in an advisory role.”
Will the noose tighten? (Image credit: Getty Images)
All this boils down the central fact that the country is looking ahead at the formation of a forum called ‘Committee for Internet Related Policies' (CIRP). The CIRP forum will essentially overlook parameters like - developing Internet policies, overseeing all Internet standards bodies and policy organizations, negotiating all Internet-related treaties and also form the judgment body when instances of Internet-related disputes come up. Basically, India’s proposal to the United Nations General Assembly pertains to the formation of a unit (CIRP) that would be funded by the U.N., run by U.N.'s Conference on Trade and Development arm's staff and report directly to the U.N. General Assembly. Simply put, the body will be controlled in its entireity by the member states of the U.N.
The success and the subsequent acceptance of a proposal as such would essentially mean that the existing democratic nature of Internet usage, which includes opportunities for 'equal say' would be taken over a structure, wherein the government would have the hold of all strings with advice from stakeholders. The report further adds that the nation's decision to bring in government control on the Internet had followed close on the heels of particularly this one successful instance wherein he managed to gather larger crowds at the Ram Lila grounds in August 2011, most of which, reportedly, was caused by the Internet and social media active in the country. "By early October, Mr. Hazare powered up his campaign further by blogging, tweeting and launching a Facebook profile to connect with his supporters," it added.
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