Sense of Congress on Governance of the Internet

Floor Speech

By:  Greg Walden
Date: Dec. 5, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. WALDEN. I thank my colleague and friend for the time.

I rise today in support of Senate Concurrent Resolution 50, which, as you've heard, opposes international regulation of the Internet. It is virtually identical to the language that our friend and colleague Representative Mary Bono Mack put forward in H. Con. Res. 127, which was introduced earlier this year and passed by my subcommittee and in the full Energy and Commerce Committee and went on to pass this House without opposition. With this vote, we unify that language and we send a strong bipartisan, bicameral signal about America's commitment to an unregulated Internet.

I want to thank Representative Bono Mack for championing this important legislation to keep the Internet free from government regulation. I also wish to thank FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell, who has tirelessly sounded the call, not only about the peril we face if we stand idly by as countries like Russia and China seek to exert control over the Internet, but also about how FCC's own actions adopting network neutrality rules regulating the Internet undermine America's case abroad.

I also fear that recent talks of cybersecurity executive orders here at home may be cited back to us by some foreign nations with them accusing us of telling them to do as we say but not as we do.

The historical hands-off regulatory policy has allowed the Internet to become the greatest vehicle for global, social, and economic liberty since the printing press. And despite the current economic climate, it continues to grow at an astonishing pace.

FCC Commissioner McDowell and Chairman Genachowski are in Dubai this week as U.S. delegates to the World Conference on International Telecommunications. Our committee has also sent representatives from both parties to keep an eye on the proceedings. There, the 193 member countries of the United Nations are considering whether to apply to the Internet a regulatory regime that the International Telecommunications Union created in the 1980s for old-fashioned telephone service, as well as whether to swallow the Internet's nongovernmental organizational structure whole and make it part of the United Nations. Neither of these are acceptable outcomes and must be strongly opposed by our delegation.

Among those supportive of such regulation is Russian President Vladimir Putin, who spoke positively about the idea of ``establishing international control over the Internet,'' to use his own words. Some countries have even proposed regulations that would allow them to read citizens' email in the name of security, require citizens to register their email addresses for tracking purposes, and to charge for Internet access to their countries on a per-click basis.

This resolution rejects these proposals by taking the radical position that if the most revolutionary advance in technology, commerce, and social discourse of the last century is not broken, as you've heard others say, there's no reason to ``fix'' it.

The ability of the Internet to grow at this staggering pace is due largely to the flexibility of the multistakeholder model that governs the Internet so successfully today. Nongovernmental institutions now manage the Internet's core functions with input from private and public sector participants, and 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, information, business expansion, investment, and innovation. Moving away from the multistakeholder model would harm these abilities, preventing the Internet from spreading prosperity and the cause of freedom.

As the United States delegation continues its work at the WCIT, this resolution is an excellent bipartisan demonstration of our Nation's commitment to preserve the multistakeholder governance model and keep the Internet free from international regulation. I encourage my colleagues to support passage of this measure.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT