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India maintains Internet cannot be governed

The Indian government has sought suggestions from different stakeholders on the position that India should take before it begins negotiations with other countries at a global  internet governance meet in Dubai this week. 

In an open house held by the government on Tuesday,telecom minister Kapil Sibal gave stakeholders representing civil society, mobile phone companies and social media two days to put in their comments in writing after some objected to the language used in certain clauses of the draft prepared by the government for discussion at the World Conference on International Telecommunications 2012. 

Though the discussion was supposed to focus on critical issues and implications on Internet traffic, content, online speech, surveillance and cost to the consumers, most stakeholders expressed their discontentment on the language chosen by the government to express this. 

Sibal said that the industry was free to give alternative formulations to the language used in the draft such that it matches the government's intent. 

"The intent of the government is that internet is a tool for empowerment and in no way this should be diminished. If you think that the government's intent does not reflect in the writing then please suggest alternatives but keeping in mind our concerns on the security of networks, financial and defence security of the country," he told stakeholders. 

Stakeholders including representatives from GSM mobile phone companies, the GSM lobby Cellular Operators Association of India, CDMA lobby Auspi, social media networking giant Facebook and Google, among others were present for the open house. 

Sibal said he would 'apply his mind to the suggestions before taking them to Dubai' where a long drawn out process of negotiations will begin which will ascertain which regulatory authority will govern the internet. 

Over 193 countries including India will discuss the future of internet in Dubai next week to discuss and decide on several proposals that could give governments more control on content and access to internet networks. Issues like cyber security, data privacy, fraud and misuse of information would be debated on apart from the ITR's, which were last revised in 1988. 

Ever since, mobile telephony has grown exponentially and majority of the large networks are owned by private entities. Further, internet usage has seen uncontrollable growth with more than 2 billion users till date. 

The global debate is likely to divide countries into two - one supporting free internet while the other agreeing on authorizing ITU, the United Nations' specialized agency for information and communications technologies, to regulate the internet. 

Sibal added that the treaty was in no way binding and the Indian government could ratify only certain parts. 

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