ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), which manages the IANA functions, is the parent body responsible for managing and maintaining stable and secure internet globally. ICANN has been assigned with the responsibility of convening stakeholders to develop a transition plan to replace the role of US NTIA. In this context, a Cross Community Working Group (CCWG Accountability) was set-up early last year to seek comments from the global community to enhance transparency and accountability of ICANN to the global internet community. The CCWG is currently seeking comments on their proposal to make ICANN more accountable prior to the IANA transition.
As a nation, India has a stake in this discussion. With over 250 million Internet subscribers, and rural India looking for adoption business models, India has begun to play its due role. Recently, CCAOI conducted a Multi-stakeholder Conference chaired by Dr. Ajay Kumar, Joint Secretary – Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY). Besides over 95 participants from diverse stakeholder communities of India viz., Industry, Academia, Civil Society, Technical Communities, Government, Legal Community and Youth. Over 25 remote participants from different cities of India such as Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Indore, Kolkata, Trivandrum, etc., joined the conference along with members of Internet Society (ISOC) Chapters from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, who participated remotely.
During the conference, supported by NIXI, DeitY, DSCI, ISPAI, ISOC Delhi, ITU APT Foundation of India, ITFC ACTO and AUSPI, Dr. Ajay Kumar stated that the Department of Electronics and IT has recently submitted India's views to the ICANN Accountability process. The endeavour is to participate in the discussions in a proactive manner, assimilating the views of all stakeholders, especially the nearly 1 billion who are currently unconnected. He also emphasized upon the need for the emerging economies to have a significant voice in the global ICANN discussion.
At the round table, CCAOI also released their study report, which is available from the following link: http://www.ccaoi.in/UI/links/fwresearch/Study%20on%20the%20Indian%20Perspective%20on%20IANA%20transition.pdf
Speaking at the occasion Amrita Choudhury, Director CCAOI, emphasized that India must seek higher levels of accountability from ICANN and not its replacement. There should also be an increase in the capacity building activities related to Internet Governance within the region.
Speaking at the round table, Dr. Mahesh Uppal shared that India currently has a relatively low, but potentially large base of internet users. It has ambitious plans to use internet for growth and development and, therefore, has a significant stake in internet and its governance. We cannot afford to remain outside key policy making and associated bodies in the internet space.
There were various deliberations on the existing proposals amongst the participants, such as questions on low participation of industry in such meetings, what the status of the agreement of VeriSign with the Department of Commerce would be post the transition etc. Issues related to Internet Stability and Security, clarity in the jurisdiction of ICANN, Accountability and transparency of ICANN and IANA Operator and Standards, were also discussed.
During the discussions, the participants deliberated that there is a need for the stakeholders from the SAARC region to be more proactive and participative. There was also an agreement that the SAARC regional collaboration needs to be enhanced to share concerns, build views, and to evolve best practices in this area. At the round table, the Joint Secretary agreed to facilitate a unified platform with the objective of increasing the engagement of the participants from SAARC in such deliberations.