FCC's McDowell: 'We Are Losing the Fight for Internet Freedom'

Commssioner Ready to Speak at March 12 Senate Commerce Committee Meeting
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Continuing to sound the alarm about international efforts to sssert "command and control," FCC commissioner Robert McDowell plans to tell Congress that aggressive action is needed to stem that tide.

"We are losing the fight for Internet freedom," he plans to tell members of the Senate Commerce Committee on Tuesday (March 12). "Unless defenders of Internet freedom and prosperity act quickly, boldly and imaginatively, this tragic trajectory will become irreversible," he says, according to his prepared testimony for an FCC oversight hearing in the committee.

He also plans to tell the committee he thinks the FCC 1) should at least test how to apply, or not apply, traditional regulations to an all-IP world (AT&T has asked the FCC for such test beds); 2) should do nothing to restrict the pool of wireless bidders for broadcast spectrum--including via de facto spectrum caps; 3) and modernize media ownership rules, but not start applying local ownership caps to joint sales agreements.

McDowell has been saying the same thing about the international Internet governance threat before and after the World Conference on International Telecommunications telecom treaty conference in Dubai last December -- he was in attendance -- were the U.S. delegation, joined by more than four dozen allies, refused to sign on to the conference work product because of Internet-related language.

McDowell had some advice for how to counter the trajectory toward a top-down Internet governance model:

  1. "Defenders of Internet freedom must act quickly to turn the threat of increased intergovernmental control of the Internet into an opportunity to reverse course through liberalization of markets that will spark competition, investment and innovation;
  2. "We must offer other nations, especially those in the developing world that feel disenfranchised from Internet governance processes, an alternative to international regulation by improving and enhancing multi-stakeholder entities, such as the Internet Governance Forum ("IGF"); and
  3. "Congress can and should continue to play a constructive role by amplifying the call for more Internet freedom."