At the India Internet Conference today, Communications and IT Minister Kapil Sibal affirmed that the government was against controlling or governing the Internet, but a consensus was required among stakeholders to deal with issues that could crop up in the future. In his statement, Sibal added, “There should be no formal government interference in the dissemination of information through a medium which is perhaps quintessential representative of democracy… What we want is consensus and not a decision. Consensus which will then formalised through which we can deal in future”.
In his statement further, Sibal stressed that while a couple of aspects of the Internet were protected by the freedom of speech, there are others that may not be. He noted that as the nature of governance changes with time, the definition of freedom evolves too.
Against Internet governance (Image credit: Getty Images)
Interestingly, Sibal had something to say about the title of the India Internet Governance Conference. “Quite frankly, I don't like the word governance. You are having curtain raiser on India Internet Governance conference. I think we are starting on wrong foot”.
“Like any other technology any technology that is in human hand can also be misused. The problem here is do we need governance structure in order to deal with that problem or do we need an evolving structure which builds consensus to be able to deal with that issue,” he added.
On the topic of Internet governance, he stated, “We need modicum of consensus but that consensus should evolve with honest open discussion with all the key stakeholders. This is the way we will go forward but what we want is consensus and not a decision. Consensus which will then formalised through which we can deal with in future.”
In light of the recent the exodus of northeast Indians in the country, and the subsequent revelation of the role of social media, Sibal stressed on the need of having an institutional mechanism in place to prevent the misuse of social networking websites in the country. “We have to make efforts in consultation with the websites and impress upon them to create an institutional mechanism to prevent misuse of technology,” he was quoted as saying outside the Parliament House. Reports at the time also revealed that in a step in that direction, the government was working along with social networking websites towards creating an institutional mechanism to check the misuse of social networking websites in the country.