Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski Thursday gave a shout-out to his former law school colleague and current President of the United States, Barack Obama, for the latter's support of an open Internet before the international community.
In a statement before the United Nations General Assembly, the President said that the U.S. will "promote new tools of communication so people are empowered to connect with one another and, in repressive societies, to do so with security. We will support a free and open Internet, so individuals have the information to make up their own minds."
"I commend President Obama for his strong statement before the United Nations General Assembly that communications networks can and must play a vital role in advancing economic development, freedom, and human dignity around the globe," said Genachowski in a statement. "It is essential that we preserve the open Internet and stand firmly behind the right of all people to connect with one another and to exchange ideas freely and without fear."
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a speech last January declared Internet openness to be a foreign policy goal, likening the freedom to connect to the Internet to freedom of assembly during a speech that mirrored the Four Freedoms speech of Franklin Roosevelt.
Genachowski has said from the outset that no foreign country should take the FCC's effort to insure Internet freedom as a government effort to control the 'net. "There should be no confusion on this point, at home or abroad," he said in announcing his plan to expand and codify network neutrality rules last October. "This Commission fully agrees that government must not restrict the free flow of information over the Internet."
Commissioner Robert McDowell raised concerns about the reaction of the international community in his statement on the same net neutrality order, saying he had talked with international regulators who were "waiting for the U.S. to assert more government authority over the Internet to help justify an increased state role over Internet management internationally." He said that the FCC needed to be careful of unintended consequences and not inadvertently [set] a precedent for some foreign governments with less pure motives to use in justifying stricter Internet regulation."