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Expressing Sense of Congress on Governance of the Internet

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Ms. ESHOO. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I'm very pleased to join with all of my colleagues. This is an unusual happening on the floor, and I hope there are lots of people tuned in from C-SPAN listening and watching, because it is one of the few times that we've come together in a true bipartisan, 100 percent bipartisan way.

I want to pay tribute to the gentlewoman from California, Representative Bono Mack, for her leadership on this. And I'm very, very pleased to join her and all of the members of the Energy and Commerce Committee on H. Con. Res. 127.

As I said, this is bipartisan and it's bicameral, and it demonstrates the bipartisan commitment of the Congress to preserve the open structure and multistakeholder approach that has guided the Internet over the past two decades.

The distinguished chairman of our subcommittee said that he hopes the administration will remain on this. The administration was there before the Congress took action. There is no light between the administration, the executive branch, the Senate or the House, and that's the way it should be.

Through this open and transparent structure, Mr. Speaker, the Internet has literally transformed into a platform supporting thousands of innovative companies, applications, and services, not just in the United States, but in communities around the world.

I'm very, very proud, because my congressional district is very much a part of Silicon Valley, and many of these companies helped to launch these innovations. In fact, since 1995--this is really stunning--venture capital funds have invested approximately $250 billion--with a B, dollars--in industries reliant on an open Internet, including $91.8 billion on software alone.

But later this year, the World Conference on International Telecommunications--at the committee, we call it WCIT, that's a lot easier--will take up proposals that represent a really fundamental departure from the International Telecommunications Regulations adopted in 1988. Nearly 25 years ago, this treaty provided a framework for how telecommunications traffic is handled among countries, but much has changed since that time.

In addition to proposing new regulations on broadband services, several nations, including Russia, are set on asserting intergovernmental control over the Internet, leading to a balkanized Internet where censorship could become the new norm. While there's no question that nations have to work together to address challenges to the Internet's growth and stability, such as cybersecurity, online privacy, and intellectual property protection, these issues can best be addressed under the existing model.

It's absolutely essential that the United States defend the current model of Internet governance at the upcoming Dubai conference this December because the very fabric of the free and open Internet is at stake.

So I urge all of my colleagues to support this bipartisan resolution which reflects, as I said a few months ago, a viewpoint already shared by the Obama administration, the Federal Communications Commission, and the U.S. delegation to the WCIT, and unite in opposition to proposals that threaten the innovation, openness, and transparency enjoyed by Internet users around the world.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Ms. ESHOO. I'll just make some closing comments because I don't have anyone else who is here to speak to this.

Mr. Speaker, I think that everyone who has spoken has really spoken beautifully about this issue, about what the Internet represents not only to individuals, businesses, students, how it has changed how we live, how we work, how we learn, and the jobs that it has produced, what it has done for our national economy, but also what it has done relative to exporting democracy. Of course, the United States is front and center in this.

It's a very interesting thing to me to examine those countries that are thinking another way and want to impose that thinking on the Internet. There are far more closed societies where freedom of thought, freedom of expression is not valued the way we do and other democracies do. So we need to form partnerships with other countries around the world to make sure that the democratizing effect that the Internet actually holds will continue.

I'm proud to join again with my colleagues, with Mr. Walden, the distinguished chairman of our subcommittee, and Representative Bono Mack, who led the effort with this resolution. I'm proud that we're all together. And I always want to thank our staff, both on the majority and the minority side of the aisle, for the work that they do on the committee. I thank you all, and I salute you. I look forward to a unanimous vote of the United States House of Representatives in support of a free and open Internet.

With that, I yield back the balance of my time.

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