ICANN, which matches domain names with appropriate IP address numbers, is hosting its 57th meeting in Hyderabad from November 3-7. The meeting is important because this is the first time the global community will come together post the US Department of Commerce giving up oversight of the internet. The Internet will now operate in a multi-stakeholder model, which India also agreed to support last year.
“The continuous support of your community is going to be important because of the amount of users you have, and also, the diversity is going to be important because you have 22 languages,” he said. This means that a new way of governing things is likely to emerge, decided upon by not one controlling body, but several stakeholders.
India has, over the past two years, increased participation at internet governance forums as the number of internet users are steadily increasing – on track to touch 500 million by 2017. As a result, India has asked for a greater say in running the Internet’s order of things.
One such demand has been setting up a root server in the country. Root servers essentially manage top level domains (TLDs) such as .com, .org,.net, and so on, as well as country-specific domains such as like .in, .au, and .cn. There are only 13 such servers, of which 10 are in the US, two in Europe and one in Japan. Setting up a root server in India is largely seen as the country having more bargaining power at internet governance forums.
Marby said the root server question has largely been dealt with as a “political issue” and does not take into account the technical understanding of how the internet truly works. India has six ‘mirror’ servers, which are a copy of the main root servers.
“We continue to provide the technology for the copies or the mirrors (servers), because that’s what you (India) need to shorten the time, to make sure there’s a redundancy. I think over time, India’s ISPs and telcos, which actually provide the access … are making huge investments in spectrum, in fibre. That’s what counts,” he said.
The lack of Indian representation on ICANN board has also been an issue. “This is a bottom up process. You come into the community, you work with the community, you get elected by the community and that’s the way you end up in the board.”