Concerned NSCS insists on multilateral net governance

KOLKATA: The apex agency looking into India’s political, economic, energy and strategic security concerns has warned that the internet is “controlled and managed by the US government and its security agencies,” and demanded a “multilateral model” for resolution of all matters pertaining to internet governance.

In a confidential note, seen by ET, the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) has claimed that the “key function of managing the domain name system or `DNS’ is effectively in the hands of National Telecom & Information Administration (NTIA),” a US Department of Commerce arm that advises the Obama administration on all telecom and information policy matters.

The DNS is the equivalent of an internet phone book, which translates computer hostnames into numerical internet protocol (IP) addresses. The NSCS, which in consultation with the foreign ministry and the department of electronics & information technology (DeiTY), is putting together India’s position on Internet governance, wants “data relating to all domain names originating from India to be stored in the country”.

The agency also wants DNS management to be supervised by a board comprising technical experts by multiple governments, with India represented. The matter was discussed recently at a meeting of the sub-committee on global cyber security, chaired by NSCS secretary and Deputy National Security Advisor Nehchal Sandhu.

It was decided that “India would advocate a multilateral model of internet governance, wherein governments would be represented in decision-making fora, but would be obliged to undertake consultations at their respective national levels with stakeholders while formulating their positions,” said the note cited earlier.

The foreign ministry, which participated in the meeting, has warned against “the possibility of the US, Russia and China” thrashing out a mutually convenient “internet governance arrangement” and thrusting the same on India.

“We need to guard against such a possibility and ensure India’s concerns are accommodated in whatever international regime for Internet governance that ultimately emerges,” said a foreign ministry spokesman in minutes of the NSCS meeting, a copy of which was reviewed by ET.

The foreign ministry has also hinted that globalisation of internet governance was unlikely to translate in any geographical dispersal of the offices of Internet Corporation for Assigned Names & Numbers (ICANN)—the independent body responsible for organising the Internet— since the ICANN had committed not to shift outside the US without concurrence of the Obama administration.

“Under its ‘Affirmation of Commitments’ pact with US Department of Commerce, ICANN has committed not to step outside the US without approval of the US government, and ensured that management of internet would continue to be led by private sector,” the note added. This is a repost from economictimes.indiatimes.com

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