A Model for Internet Governance and Implications for India

Posted: 31 Mar 2015 Last revised: 30 Mar 2018

See all articles by Rekha Jain

Rekha Jain

IIMA-IDEA Telecom Centre of Excellence, IIMA

Date Written: March 31, 2015


The increasing role of Internet in economic growth and social aspects has brought the significance of Internet Governance to the forefront. New paradigms of Internet Governance recognize the contribution and role of governments, private organizations, civil society and other communities. The border-less and distributed architecture of the Internet substantially differentiates Internet Governance from traditional governance, challenging the established dominant role of nation-states in policy-making. Access, human rights, privacy and standards have become important Internet Governance issues. This has led to an enhanced role of nation states.

Many developed countries recommend multi-stakeholder approach where nation-states are only one of the many stakeholders that include private sector and other communities. India’s position on Internet Governance recommends a multi-lateral approach which is at variance with emerging scenario globally. This has isolated India and created a negative signal for investment in the ICT sector.

India’s position has been based on a limited focus on the international aspects of Internet Governance dealing largely with cyber-security. Although this is a critical aspect, this approach has been at the expense of economic and social goals domestically. Hence, there is a need for India to focus on Internet Governance on dimensions other than cyber-security and adopt a wider perspective.

Studies of Internet Governance have not systematically addressed these issues in the design of responsive organizations or national systems for effective governance. This paper contributes to addressing this lacuna by: i) Developing a conceptual model for Internet Governance based on both the underlying architecture of the Internet and a proposed framework for evaluating the perceived legitimacy of the suggested model and ii) Combining the two models, this paper develops the Multi-Tier Open Participation (M-TOP) approach for its application to India. This approach not only strengthens domestic Internet Governance, but also increases India’s role in regional and international processes.

Methodology: This work was done at the request of Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY), India to help them develop a framework for Internet Governance. We used in-depth personal interviews and focused group discussions with policy makers in India as our primary source of data. Active participation in, and interviews with several key attendees of Internet Governance Forum, Istanbul, 2014 have contributed to this study. For secondary data, we have examined the existing literature. After initial development of our proposed framework, we sought feedback from key decision-makers in DeitY and the industry to check for the feasibility and consistency of our initial proposed framework.

Outcomes: We have developed a Multi-Tiered model based on underlying architecture of the Internet. It analyses the different tiers, key issues, lead and other actors, and geographic scope of decision-making. Based on models of decision-making processes, we developed a Perceived Legitimacy Model (PLM). Here, we identify parameters on the basis of which stakeholders assess the legitimacy of different stages of decision-making. We combine both the multi-tier and PLM models to develop the M-TOP approach. This approach recognizes that there is no single approach to governance that is applicable across all tiers of Internet architecture and relevant public policy issues. Subsequently, we design an integrated framework for Internet Governance in India which incorporates the M-TOP approach. It also addresses the issue of multi-stakeholder and multi-lateral approaches in a nuanced way. Our recommended framework also takes into account that Internet Governance principles for India should be in consonance with its democratic ethos and openness and dovetail with the inherent characteristics of the Internet, namely, openness, dynamism, and innovation. This framework takes cognizance of the need for flexibility for new technologies and international developments.

Keywords: Internet Governance, Multi-stakeholder, Multi-lateral, Cyber Security, Policy Models, Perceived Legitimacy Models, Internet Architecture

Suggested Citation

Jain, Rekha, A Model for Internet Governance and Implications for India (March 31, 2015). TPRC 43: The 43rd Research Conference on Communication, Information and Internet Policy Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2587715

Rekha Jain (Contact Author)

IIMA-IDEA Telecom Centre of Excellence, IIMA ( email )

Ahmedabad, Gujarat 380015

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