April 29, 2014

Diplomatic Assertion: India Wants Equinet To End US Hegemony On Internet

PREETAM KAUSHIK1APR 22, 2014, 12.47 PM


The revelations made by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who had been granted Russian asylum and is currently living in that country, surely dented the US image for the long term. Although the world has long suspected that the US is the brain behind all the 'paranormal' activities on the Internet, such as spying, data gathering and breaching the trust of several world leaders by screening their communication in the e-world, Snowden managed to provide the perfect setting for the livid reactions that followed. In fact, Snowden has single-handedly caused more damage to the country's reputation than the years of Cold War could ever accomplish.

The reactions were candid and sometimes explicit to the extent of shedding the suave language of diplomacy to get the point across in no uncertain terms. Among the first to react strongly against this was the Brazilian President, Dilma Rousseff, who was simply furious. German Chancellor Angela Merkel sent out a cautious reaction, expressing anger over the same and saying that European Union countries need to explore ways to ensure data safety on the Internet by hosting their servers in other places than the US.

Now, the next in the list is India. When Edward Snowden's allegation/revelation came along, the country sat as a silent observer even as the world went about reacting and revealing plans to safeguard the data concerning their countries and citizens.

This has got to be a major diplomatic initiative where India is seen as a challenge to the US in terms of the hegemony the latter has over the Internet world. India will propose to rename the Internet as 'Equinet' and make all nations equal stakeholders in its operations. Through this, India will call for 'internationalisation' of the Internet, where technology won't be a preserve of any specific country, but will allow all countries to have a say in the matter of data security.

When India speaks about Equinet, it won't be the first nation to do so. Equinet, as a structure and concept with greater objectives, is the European Network of Specialised National Equality Bodies. This structure co-ordinates and facilitates information exchange among fair bodies in the European Union, to counteract discrimination across a wide range of key areas including age, sexual orientation, gender and a host of other aspects.

But the Equinet India proposes to implement, goes much beyond counteracting discrimination. This Equinet reaches the realms of Internet safety, data protection and privacy of users across the spectrum. India will place this suggestion at a meeting, proposed to be held at Brazil's Sao Paulo on April 23 at the 'NETMundial' event where representatives from more than 180 countries will be present.

It is well expected that India will side with Brazil, Russia, China, South Africa and Iran to get the point across that the time has come to end the US dominance over the Internet. This conference, which is also known as the 'Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Governance,' was led by Brazil, which had expressed its displeasure over the American snooping activities in no uncertain words.

In its interpretation of what the Internet should turn out to be, India will press for a 'multilateral, transparent, democratic and representative...' Internet and security programmes, which need to be 'internationalised' in the sense that access to security measures should be distributed equally among stakeholders.

India will also elaborate on how the new cyber jurisprudence should be evolved, bringing down all political boundaries and aiming to deliver cyber justice in real time. For this, India feels that all stakeholders need to facilitate the transfer of Information Technology and capacity building to developing nations in order to help them take measures to improve cyber security, develop technical skills and enact legislation, strategies and regulatory frameworks to fulfil their responsibilities.

Even the Indian government is aware that the country is home to the world's biggest tech force that can make it happen. In fact Milind Deora, Union Minister of State for IT and Communications, has reportedly said that in order to strengthen cyber security programmes and safeguard the secrecy of Internet communication, the government is encouraging Indian IT firms to set up their servers in the country. This is being done in order to protect the interests and secrecy of Indian citizens, the minister has stated. In its 12th Five Year Plan in 2012-17, the government has also allocated Rs 500 crore towards strengthening cyber security that will cover a number of key areas such as surveillance, cyber crime investigation and forensics.

In what can be a major step for India to track illegal activities driven by technology, the position of a stakeholder can easily catapult the country from being a victim to an empowered nation. However, the tech world would then want the government to exercise caution while exercising control over the Internet, without acceding to knee-jerk reactions.

ndia wants the Internet to become Equinet

By Lori Sandoval, Tech Times | April 21, 11:07

NETmundialIndia wants to rename the Internet to Equinet as it fights for all nations to have an equal say in the operations of the World Wide Web, rather than control by a single entity, the United States. Will it succeed?
(Photo : NETmundial)

In an era where the rise of Internet technology and its pros and cons become hot issues for global debate, India proposes renaming the "Internet" to "Equinet," bolstering its move to decentralize the operations of the World Wide Web. That way, all nations would have an equal say, instead of the United States having too much control over it.

India will put its challenge on the table at the Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on April 23 and 24. Also called NETmundial, the global meeting is to discuss principles on Internet governance and a road map for evolving the Internet Governance Ecosystem.

It was initiated by Brazil in light of the leaked reports of U.S. agencies spying on Dilma Rousseff, Brazil's president, and other high government officials. The leaked reports came from National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Research says the idea of Equinet first came out from Kapil Sibal, India's communications minister, during an Internet Governance Forum in Baku, Azerbaijan, in 2012.

"Equinet means an equitable Internet, which plays the role of an equalizer in the society and [is] not limited only to the privileged people," said CEO Dr. Govind of the National Internet Exchange of India.

Sivasubramanian Muthusamy, who is president of Internet Society India in Chennai, as well as participant in the NETmundial, said the concept of Equinet isn't achievable.

"Totally wrong idea. Internet provides a level playing field already. It is designed and operated to be universally accessible, free and open. Internet as it is operated today offers the greatest hope for developing countries to access global markets and prosper," he said.

Interestingly, a draft of the paper to be discussed was made available online since last week and is even open for any comment. Apparently, there's a sense of dissatisfaction among the stakeholders, criticizing the document for discussion for its lack of any strength.

In a letter posted at NETmundial.net, the draft was criticized for several things, including removing references to net neutrality and no mention of mass surveillance by the NSA and other active parties supposedly involved.

Meanwhile, Ben Wagner and Milton Mueller, said to be experts of Internet governance, see the global meeting as merely a rehash of old debates, based on their paper Finding a Formula for Brazil: Representation and Legitimacy in Internet Governance.

News came out in March that the U.S. intends to abandon control of a vital part of ICANN, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, after 16 years of control. Critics said it appeared to be a move of the U.S. against criticism that it controls the Internet.

The global meeting will have representatives from around 180 countries and have 33 remote participation centers in 23 nations. It will be streamed live on Netmundial.br. India is said to possibly to take sides with China, Iran, Russia, Brazil and South Africa.

With 220 million users, India is the third-largest Internet community, after the United States and China. 

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