Without dissent, the House Energy and Commerce Committee has approved legislation by Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack (CA-45) to try and prevent the United Nations from wresting control of the Internet. Bono Mack issued the following statement after passage of H. Con. Res. 127:
"As the United States prepares to take part in the World Conference on International Telecommunications in Dubai, we need to provide our delegation with a clear and unmistakable mandate: Keep the Internet free of any government control. At the WCIT discussions, a new treaty on Internet governance will be debated. Most worrisome to me are efforts by some countries to provide the United Nations with unprecedented new authority over the management of the Internet.
"Despite denials, the Russians and Chinese are working quietly behind the scenes -- and have been for years -- to exert control over Web content and infrastructure. This could lead to human rights abuses in the future and effectively put a spigot on the free flow of information. We can't let that happen. Today, Republicans and Democrats -- in a loud and unified voice -- made it clear that the United States must fight any attempts to fundamentally alter the governance and operation of the Internet. Otherwise, instead of continuing to flourish, we run the risk of the Internet one day becoming a wasteland of unfilled hopes, dreams and opportunities.
"I want to thank Chairman Fred Upton, Ranking Member Henry Waxman, Communications & Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden and Subcommittee Ranking Member Anna Eshoo for their leadership in this effort."
H. Con. Res. 127 presently has 58 co-sponsors, including 46 members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Among the many groups supporting Congresswoman Bono Mack's efforts are the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) and the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI).
U.S. Chamber of Commerce: "The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world's largest business federation representing the interests of more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region, strongly supports H. Con. Res. 127, which calls the Administration to continue to implement the United States' consistent and unequivocal policy of the United States to preserve and advance the successful multi-stakeholder model that governs the Internet today."
NCTA: "We applaud the House Energy & Commerce Committee for approving this important resolution which sends a strong and clear message that the United Nations and International Telecommunications Union should cease its efforts to assert and impose unprecedented governmental regulation over the Internet. As history demonstrates, the success of the Internet is firmly rooted in its current multi-stakeholder governance model which incents private investment, consciously avoids government controls, and yields innovative new ways of increasing consumer welfare around the globe. We especially applaud the bipartisan leadership of Chairmen Bono Mack, Upton, and Walden and Ranking Members Waxman and Eshoo for their efforts to introduce and guide this resolution through the Committee. We are hopeful the resolution will be soon considered by the full House."
SIIA: "We applaud the House Energy and Commerce Committee for defending the Web from control by international bodies that could threaten today's reality of Internet freedom. Expanding U.N. control over the Internet could give undue power to governments that seek to undermine Internet freedom and international trade. We need a global Internet free from unnecessary international governmental control.
"Last year, Russia, China, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan proposed a U.N. code of conduct stating that policy authority for Internet-related public issues is the sovereign right of states. While many government agencies, especially law enforcement and national security departments, would agree that their jurisdiction extends to actions on the Internet, the real worry is how governments and international agencies that are hostile to Internet freedom could interpret and apply these broad principles. The proposed code of conduct could be used to limit the ability of individuals and firms to exchange legitimate Internet traffic across borders and create significant digital trade barriers.
"All countries have benefited from the open, transparent nature of the Internet, and will continue to do so under the current multi-stakeholder approach to Internet governance."
ITI: "E-commerce, free speech, scientific advancements, open sharing of information -- the hallmarks of the 21st century Internet would be jeopardized by overzealous attempts by governments to regulate it and bring it under their control. If successful, such a misguided approach could seize innovation, smother free enterprise, and send a chilling hand to stifle the voice of free speech and expression.
"People around the world rely on the Internet as a primary source of information for how they live their lives. The Web has become an integral part of how we all work, learn, and play. That tool is best advanced through global collaboration and individual creativity, not heavy-handed government control. Shifting from this open, consensus-based approach to government-dominated control would stifle market-led competition and rob Internet users of much of the freedom they enjoy online today.
"ITI applauds the bill's sponsors and the House Energy and Commerce Committee for their movement on this resolution. We urge the House of Representatives to send a strong, clear signal to the rest of the world: Keep the Internet free from government interference."