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Indian government against Internet control: Minister

25 September 2012

Ashok Kumar/OneWorld South Asia

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India’s Communications and IT Minister Kapil Sibal said the despite the chances of the Internet being misused (like any other technology), the government was against having a control on this medium.

“My government would not want a control over the Internet. India will fully embrace the internet revolution,” he said.

When asked by OneWorld South Asia if internet could be a weapon in the hands of common man to fight corruption, he said, “Internet can be used for several purposes, and I am sure this will be one of them”.

Talking about the challenges posed by the misuse of Internet, Sibal said that while some aspects of the Internet were completely protected by the right to free speech, there were some aspects which might not be protected. “We need to ascertain if we need the ‘governance structure’ or an ‘evolving structure’ to deal with the problem of misuse of internet. I and my government will not want a governance structure to deal with the misuse,” he said.

When asked if India needed a regulatory authority for the Internet, Sibal dwelled on the issue of governance as related to the Internet, saying, “Governance is an inappropriate word when you talk about the internet. What we need is an evolving solution which protects all stakeholders in a highly complex situation”.

The minister also expressed his reservation over the title of the event, ‘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 because in the twenty first century the nature of governance has changed," Sibal said.

Talking about the power of internet as a resource, Sibal said, citizens around the world are its biggest stakeholders who are empowered through this medium. He also said that by the year 2016 the number of devices interconnected to the internet would be around 15 billion which would be twice the population of the world. “The future is of the internet. The future is of democratizing the cyber space. One thing which is very clear is that there should be no formal government interference over the dissemination of information through a medium which is perhaps quintessential representative of democracy,” he said.

"We need modicum of consensus but that consensus must evolve with honest and open discussion with all the key stakeholders. This is the way we will move forward but what we want is consensus and not a decision. Consensus which will then formalise into a roadmap through which we can deal in future," he added.

Sharing some highlights of McKinsey report on ‘Online and upcoming: The Internet’s Impact on India’,  Anu Madgavkar, India Head and Senior Fellow at McKinsey Global Institute said that India’s rural penetration is much lesser than that of China.

“Penetration of the Internet in rural India is a twelfth of what it is in urban sector. While overall penetration of Internet in the country is 10 per cent, the distribution of the same is highly uneven. While the share of urban India is around eight per cent, that of rural India is only two per cent,” she said.

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