The ITU’s quadrennial plenipotentiary conference (PP-14) in Oct-Nov, will decide the direction of the ITU for the next four years, so it is important that we pay close attention to this event. It is imperative that the Internet remains open so that the remaining 4/5 billion people of the planet are able to take the economic and social benefits of Internet and continuously innovating and adapting to the higher standards.
India is one of the ITU’s biggest contributor nations, and there are unconfirmed reports of India’s delegation’s proactive participation in its support for the ITU, With the aim of allowing people throughout the Asia-Pacific region to gain equal benefits from ICT. However, with the definition itself of ICT being planned to change, there is a host of new dynamics and situations can arise endangering the open nature of Internet. This is being fueled by some private sector players as well because Mobile Internet is becoming the game changer for India. Compared to 0.4 percent mobile Internet users in 2012, the penetration has grown to 2.4 percent, indicating a substantial growth in the mobile Internet user penetration levels. The National Telecom Policy (NTP) 2012 envisages broadband penetration to reach 600 million connections by 2020, this implies adding 7 million broadband connections each month from now onwards. According to an analysis conducted by McKinsey, the Internet economy in India could grow to $100 billion by 2015 to average 2.8 to 3.3 per cent of GDP, which could facilitate 22 million jobs, only if India follows an inclusive path of Internet expansion. This puts the situation of Government of India at cross roads where in terms of governance principles , they want the extreme of having the right and might rein in multinational corporations, enforce network neutrality, protect consumers from economic abuse, enforce privacy rights and redistribute wealth to promote broadband diffusion which is opposite to the demands of freedom to innovate, in the current style Internet today.
I feel, Internet governance efforts should encompass all necessary stakeholders in a manner that ensures that views of all stakeholders including the Govt. are considered on an equal footing, and all stakeholders have a role in the decision making. The policies that shape the Internet, impact not only the development of the technologies themselves, but also the realization of internationally agreed human rights, social equity and interdependence, cultural concerns, and both social and economic development and the policy framework being decided in ITU 2014 should support openness and connectivity.
As the direction set from Brazil meeting and the current work being done in terms of Stakeholdes roles, ICANN globalization and IANA transition, the plenipot meeting should not change consensus based stakeholder model of governance.
India’s delegation will be viewed with critical lens and they need to work towards furthering the relationship with other Governments, influence decision making with respect to policies to keep the internet open and Internet for All.