Ravi Shankar Prasad advises India industry to actively engage with ICANN in building ‘Internet of the Future’

By Nandita Singh

HYDERABAD: The country of 50 political parties and 22 regional official languages, India needs to just as actively participate and engage with the global ICANN community. That was the general sentiment of the ICANN leadership team, currently in India at ICANN57 being held in Hyderabad, the capital city of Telangana (Nov 3-9, 2016).

The Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is a non-profit organization founded in 1998 with an objective of Internet Governance. ICANN57 in Hyderabad is significant not just because it is being held in India after eight years (ICANN 31 was held in New Delhi in February of 2008) but also because it is ICANN’s first general meeting after the US ceded control of Internet Governance to ICANN, on September 30, 2016.

“With the IANA stewardship transition behind us, our top priority now is to focus on our revised mission and new bylaws, and working together with the empowered community. Expanding our outreach is key to our mission. In this context, we are keen to further deepen our ongoing engagement in India. As the second largest group of Internet users globally, we welcome India’s voice and participation,” said Göran Marby, ICANN President & CEO.

IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) is an ICANN unit that oversees global IP address allocation and Domain Name System (DNS) management.

With almost 1,400 of about 3,000+ registered onsite participants at ICANN57 from India, the country has not disappointed in showcasing interest in engaging with ICANN even though at this point most attendees are at a loss with ‘whys and hows’ of participation in building “Internet of the Future” and are yet to figure it out.

However, the government level engagements with ICANN have been picking steam since Narendra Modi led government came to power after a thumping majority win in 2014 general elections in the country.

At the world class Hyderabad International Convention Center, where ICANN is being hosted, India’s Minister of Law & Justice and Minister of Electronics and Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad was seen actively participating and reiterating India’s commitment to the multi-stakeholder model during the opening ceremony on November 5 and through the day at the Industry Forum organized by CII, the Confederation of Indian Industry.

“The Internet is a great equalizer. It is now time to look ahead, to build the Internet of the future with the participation of all stakeholders,” said Prasad, emphasizing that any Internet Governance framework hinges on cyber security and trust in the system. At the press conference that followed, and at the industry forum Prasad highlighted the importance of building voluntary mechanisms for containing the dark side of the Internet primarily cyber attacks and building frameworks that support privacy and freedom for all.

“The world is watching closely to see how a post-transition ICANN community handles its new found role. And much of that focus will be on those involved in enhancing ICANN’s accountability and transparency,” said Dr Stephen Crocker, ICANN Board Chair in his address to the ICANN gathering.

Telangana Minister of IT and Industries KT Rama Rao, who was also present at the ICANN inaugural, shared Telangana’s goal of broadband for all in the next 18 months. The state has a specific project that is bundling fiber optic along with drinking water pipelines to households across the state to ensure connectivity and potable water to all households in Telangana.

ICANN57 is hosted by Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) with support from the Government of Telangana.

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