House E&C Members Unite to Oppose ITU ‘Net Power Play

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On the eve of a House Communications Subcommittee hearing on proposals to expand the International Telecommunications Union's role in Internet governance, a bipartisan group of Energy & Commerce Committee leaders has sent the signal that they are definitely opposed to such a move.

House Energy & Commerce Committee chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), ranking member Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Communications Subcommittee chairman Greg Walden (R-OR), and ranking member Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), and Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee chairman Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.), introduced the resolution (H. Con. Res 127) that, according to Upton's office would "reject the proposed international takeover of the Internet and preserve the current 'multi-stakeholder' model of governance."

The Obama Administration and the FCC are on the same page. Both having expressed concerns with moving away from the multi-stakeholder model.

"The Internet has prospered under the multi-stakeholder model absent the heavy hand of government regulation," said Walden in a statement. "That model has enabled an Internet that creates jobs, brings a world of information to your fingertips, allows small businesses around the world to have a global reach, drives investment and innovation, and has even started a revolution or two. We should remain committed to the Internet's collaborative governance structure and reject any international efforts to bring the Internet under government control."

"This resolution confirms that Democrats and Republicans both support the multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance and a global open Internet," said Waxman in a statement. "Both the current and past administrations deserve credit for their efforts to ensure that the Internet remains a tool for the global dissemination of ideas, information, and commerce."

According to Republican FCC commissioner Robert McDowell, some ITU members have been suggesting U.S. pushback against more ITU control is election-year politicking. He says that could not be further from the truth and the alliance of Waxman and Upton and the White House and Republicans and Democrats on the FCC also suggests that is off base.

CONCURRENT RESOLUTION

Expressing the sense of Congress regarding actions to preserve and advance the multistakeholder governance model under which the Internet has thrived.

Whereas given the importance of the Internet to the global economy, it is essential that the Internet remain stable, secure, and free from government control;

Whereas the world deserves the access to knowledge, services, commerce, and communication, the accompanying benefits to economic development, education, and health care, and the informed discussion that is the bedrock of democratic self-government that the Internet provides;

Whereas the structure of Internet governance has profound implications for competition and trade, democratization, free expression, and access to information;

Whereas countries have obligations to protect human rights, which are advanced by online activity as well as offline activity;

Whereas the ability to innovate, develop technical capacity, grasp economic opportunities, and promote freedom of expression online is best realized in cooperation with all stakeholders;

Whereas proposals have been put forward for consideration at the 2012 World Conference on International Telecommunications that would fundamentally alter the governance and operation of the Internet;

Whereas the proposals, in international bodies such as the United Nations General Assembly, the United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development, and the International Telecommunication Union, would justify under international law increased government control over the Internet and would reject the current multistakeholder model that has enabled the Internet to flourish and under which the private sector, civil society, academia, and individual users play an important role in charting its direction;

Whereas the proposals would diminish the freedom of expression on the Internet in favor of government control over content, contrary to international law;

Whereas the position of the United States Government has been and is to advocate for the flow of information free from government control; and

Whereas this and past Administrations have made a strong commitment to the multistakeholder model of Internet governance and the promotion of the global benefits of the Internet: Now, therefore, be it 1 Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That it is the sense of Congress that the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information, in consultation with the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and United States Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy, should continue working to implement the position of the United States on Internet governance that clearly articulates the consistent and unequivocal policy of the United States to promote a global Internet free from government control and preserve and advance the successful multistakeholder model that governs the Internet today.

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