Expressing Sense of Congress on Governance of the Internet

Floor Speech

By:  Greg Walden
Date: Aug. 1, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

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

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H. Con. Res. 127, a resolution that opposes international regulation of the Internet.

The resolution was introduced by Mrs. Bono Mack in May and passed the House Committee on Energy and Commerce with bipartisan support from more than 60 Members, including Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Upton, Ranking Member Waxman, and my colleague on the Communications and Technology Subcommittee, Ranking Member Eshoo. I, too, am pleased to be an original cosponsor of this important resolution.

Nations from across the globe will meet in December for the World Conference on International Telecommunications in Dubai. There, the 193 member countries of the United Nations will consider whether to apply to the Internet a regulatory regime that the International Telecommunications Union created for old-fashioned telephone service, as well as whether to swallow the Internet's nongovernmental organization's structure whole and make it part of the United Nations. Neither of these are acceptable outcomes.

Now, among those that are supportive of such regulation is Russian President Vladimir Putin, who spoke positively about the idea of ``establishing international control over the Internet.'' Some countries have even proposed regulations that would allow them to read citizens' email in the name of security. H. Con. Res. 127 rejects these proposals by taking the radical position that if the most revolutionary advance in technology, commerce, and social discourse of the last century isn't broken, well, we shouldn't be trying to fix it.

The Internet is the greatest vehicle for global progress and improvement since the printing press; and despite the current economic climate, the Internet continues to grow at an astonishing pace. Cisco estimates that by 2016 roughly 45 percent of the world's population will be Internet users, there will be more than 18.9 billion network connections, and the average speed of mobile broadband will be four times faster than it is today.

The ability of the Internet to grow at this staggering pace is due largely to the flexibility of the multi-stakeholder approach that governs the Internet today. Nongovernmental institutions now manage the Internet's core functions, with input from private and public sector participants. This structure prevents governmental or nongovernmental actors from controlling the design of the network or the content that it carries.

Without one entity in control, the Internet has become a driver of jobs and information, business expansion, investment and, indeed, innovation. Now, moving away from that multistakeholder model, Mr. Speaker, would harm these abilities and would prevent the Internet from spreading prosperity and freedom.

In May, the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology invited a panel of witnesses, including Federal Communications Commissioner Robert McDowell, to discuss the effects an international regulatory regime would have on the Internet. All agreed that such a regime would not only endanger the Internet, but would endanger global development on a much larger scale. House Concurrent Resolution 127 expresses the commitment of Congress to do all that it can to keep the Internet free from an international regulatory regime.

I'm pleased to report that earlier today, Ambassador Kramer, the leader of the U.S. delegation to the WCIT, gave a speech outlining the position of the United States that seems to be embracing the very principles contained in this resolution. Now, my hope is that the administration stays on this very course.

As the U.S. delegation continues to work in advance of the WCIT, House Concurrent Resolution 127 is an excellent bipartisan demonstration of our Nation's commitment to preserve the multistakeholder governance model and to keep the Internet free from international regulation. The House Committee on Energy and Commerce strongly supports House Concurrent Resolution 127, and I urge the rest of my colleagues in the House to join us.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. WALDEN. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself as much time as I may consume.

Tonight, the U.S. House of Representatives will send a clear and distinct message not only to our negotiators but to the world that we stand for liberty and we stand for freedom. When it comes to the Internet, both of those are incredibly important.

The Internet has brought us economic prosperity not here alone but all over the globe. The Internet has allowed for political discourse as never imagined by the great scholars of Greece and Rome. It's brought us intellectual capabilities. If you think about what you can do on the Internet today to research something, to evaluate something, there are an unlimited number of sources of data. It's improved our lives. It's improved our lives through our political systems. It's allowed people who thought they had no opportunity to effect change to have an overwhelming effect by communicating together. This really is a vote for liberty. It's a vote for freedom. It's a vote for free speech. It's a vote for the things that our Founders believed in when they gave us the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It's our version of that.

We know that there are forces out there in the world that are opposed to all of those things, because they want command and control of their people, and that's not right. We have an opportunity tonight to send a clear and convincing message that we stand in America for freedom of the Internet, for no government anywhere in the globe taking charge of it and shutting it down and denying that great human spirit that we believe in so much here in America.

Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues to join us in a unanimous show of support. I thank my staff and the staff of Representative Eshoo and Ranking Member Waxman for their good work on this, and especially to my colleague from California, Mary Bono Mack, who raised this with us early on and worked closely to write a piece of legislation, that, as you can see in a sometimes otherwise controversial House, has brought us all together. That's a real tribute to Congresswoman Bono Mack's work.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I call on my colleagues to support this resolution, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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