India has made a bid to be a major player in global
Internet governance — by making a pitch with the US to locate a 'root server' in India. There are only 13 such servers, of which 10 are in the US, two in Europe and one in Japan. The US, Indian officials told ET on the condition of anonymity, is favourably disposed to the idea. A root name server, as it's technically known, is at the base of the Internet. These servers translate readable host names into
IP addresses, which is how a user gets to the right portal link.
In short, root name servers are essential to name resolution, which is at the core of managing the Internet.
These root servers also have mirror servers — six are in India — that are networked to share the load. Any change in Internet addresses gets simultaneously updated in a root server. And a change in any one server automatically reflects in other root servers.
Senior officials told ET that India made its pitch at the Indo-US cyber dialogue two weeks ago, making the point that New Delhi's acceptance of the US backed stakeholders model on Internet governance should also encourage Washington to diversify structures of Internet management. At present, the 10 root servers in the US are mostly located in NASA, military research labs and universities.
The US, officials said, was positive in its response and asked India to start a conversation with
on the subject.
However, it did the make the point that such a decision may be possible only if a call is taken to have a 14th root server. New Delhi, on the other hand, feels that even relocating one of the 13 servers will go a long way in displaying confidence in India's democratic credentials. Moreover, India now has the thirdlargest Internet user base.
The Modi government has, in fact, elevated Internet governance as a strategic priority. In a recent decision, the PMO has made it clear that all calls related to this subject will be taken by astanding committee headed by the deputy national security adviser. The committee will have relevant stakeholders, including the Department of Information Technology, which was until now the nodal ministry.
Senior officials told ET that a root server will give India considerable clout in the Internet governance structure besides prompting a major technological upgradation within the country. "Placing a root server in India will also be a great symbol of trust in Indo-US relations," said an official.
In the meeting with US authorities, India also raised the issue of slow compliance of Indian requests by US-based Internet services such as WhatsApp and Facebook. In particular, the Muzaffarnagar riots case was brought up where an inflammatory YouTube video went viral through WhatsApp causing serious law and order problems. Indian security agencies have complained that they just could not block the video because of lack of cooperation from WhatsApp managers. While the US has said it will look into the issue, it also cited problems enforcing its will upon private enterprises.
India, on its part, has made a strong case based on which further talks are expected.