Though India is a recognised IT power, it has done little when it comes to global Internet governance, according to an expert who has appealed to Indian professionals to be more active in this crucial area.
"One of the current priorities is to get Indian experts to become more actively involved in Internet governance issues," said Madanmohan Rao, consultant, author and editor of The Asia Pacific Internet Handbook series.
The Bangalore-based expert has been recently appointed to the Outreach Sub-Committee, part of the Nominating Committee (NomComm) of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
"NomComm has just issued a Formal Call for Statements of Interest. We would like experts from India to check out the ICANN website for details and file their applications (www.icann.org)," he said.
Currently, almost all Internet infrastructure is provided and owned by the private sector. Traffic is exchanged among these networks at major interconnect points in accordance with established Internet standards and commercial agreements.
But the earlier position of the US Department of Commerce as the controller of the Internet attracted criticism from those who felt that its control should reflect its international nature. Functions were then handed to ICANN, a new US non-profit corporation.
ICANN is an internationally organised corporation that is responsible for Internet Protocol (IP) address space allocation, protocol identifier assignment, generic (gTLD) and country code (ccTLD) top-level domain name system management, and root server system management functions.
These services were earlier performed under a US government contract by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) and other entities and now ICANN performs those functions.
ICANN calls itself a "private-public partnership" and says it "is dedicated to preserving the operational stability of the Internet, to promoting competition, to achieving broad representation of global Internet communities, and to developing policy appropriate to its mission through bottom-up, consensus-based processes."
Areas of controversy in the field of the governance of cyberspace relate to the creation and control of generic top-level domains (such as the much-debated '.xxx'), the control of country-code domains, recent proposals for a large increase in ICANN's budget and responsibilities and a proposed "domain tax" to pay for this.
This debate has also seen suggestions that individual governments should have more control, or that the International Telecommunication Union or the United Nations should have a role in the Internet governance.
While hundreds of millions use the Net, there is little comprehension of how it works, or who governs it.
From its Marina del Rey offices in California, ICANN's Nominating Committee has invited Statements of Interest from the Internet community for "qualified candidates to assist in ICANN's technical and policy coordination role".
Current openings include three slots on the ICANN board of directors, one for the Council of the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO), one for the Council of the Country-Code Names Supporting Organization (ccNSO) and two members of the At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC).
Says ICANN: "Those selected will gain the satisfaction of making a valuable public service contribution towards the continued function and evolution of an essential global resource."