Local Internet industry urges govt. not to back UN bid to regulate Internet

Should India support the International Telecom Union's proposals at the UN on regulating the Internet? The local Internet industry disagrees. Various bodies have warned the govt against voting in favour of ITU on issues other than telecom.

By Kul Bhushan Published Date
27 - Dec - 2012
| Last Updated
27 - Dec - 2012
Local Internet industry urges govt. not to back UN bid to regulat...

The Indian government has drawn flak from the stakeholders in the local Internet industry for being supportive to the International Telecom Union's (ITU) proposals at the UN on regulating the Internet. The stakeholders have warned the government against voting in favour of ITU on issues related to the information and communication technology.

The ITU earlier this month gave proposals to the UN on regulating the Internet that included defining spam and cyber fraud in a way that would bring 'the some aspects of regulating the 'international network' under its ambit'. It's notable the Indian government hasn't officially given the nod to the proposals yet, but it is believed that the government would do so.

An Economic Times report quotes Subho Ray President of Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) as saying, “ITU should only focus on telecom sector and not get into information and communication technology as they have tried to do through the Dubai convention last week."

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Cellular Operators Association of India have also warned the government against supporting the ITU proposals

"It is now well recognised that law enforcement agencies can misinterpret language even when it is not intended - Mumbai arrest of the two girls being a case in point," FICCI and COAI said in a joint submission. According to these bodies, the proposals would lead to new 'binding legal obligations' on member nations, which could confront with the 'national sovereignty'.

"Defining spam requires making content-based determinations; a treaty-based obligation could lead to India having to cooperate with other countries on controlling political or commercial speech," the associations warned.

The stakeholders are also concerned over the ITU proposals to bring local internet exchanges under its purview. According to Director General at COAI Rajan S Mathews, the proposals would allow the ITU to oversee commercial agreements for the traffic exchanges.

The Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI) believes if the UN forms a body for governance the Internet, then it should distance itself from the content-related issues.

"I think a UN body should be formed only if it involves multiple stakeholders including private sector, and not only governments as has been the case with UN bodies," remarked Rajesh Chharia, ISPAI president.

The ITU proposals have also created stalemate between the US, UK and other large European economies. While the US, UK have protested any UN-backed regulation on the Internet, countries such as Russia, China and UAE have favoured the proposals.

Do you think India should support ITU's proposals on governing the Internet? Let us know in the comments section below:

Source: Economic Times

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