Royce, Smith, Poe Announce Joint Hearing on Internet Freedom

Press Release

By:  Ted Poe Ed Royce Chris Smith
Date: Jan. 29, 2013
Location: Washington, DC

Today, Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, announced that Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Chairman of the Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations Subcommittee and Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX), Chairman of the Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade Subcommittee along with Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology will convene a joint hearing to discuss efforts by some countries to expand international regulation of the Internet. The hearing entitled, "Fighting for Internet Freedom: Dubai and Beyond," will take place on February 5th at 10:30am in 2123 Rayburn House Office Building.

Chairman Royce said, "Authoritarian regimes rightly see the Internet as a mortal threat, a means for people to organize against them. Social media facilitated the Arab Spring. On YouTube, the atrocities of the Syrian regime are there for all to see. So the stakes could not be higher. The Internet is the single most important resource for businesses and consumers - we will continue our fight to ensure the Internet remains free from international regulation."

Chairman Smith said, "The debate on Internet governance isn't a matter only of domain names and copyright but also at stake is Internet freedom in repressive countries. Many of the same countries that want to increase government control of the internet are the same countries where internet freedom suffers the most. This hearing will be an important discussion on how we can integrate serious privacy and access concerns into the discussion on internet governance."

Chairman Poe said, "The United States must be clear in its opposition to the UN internet police. This agreement permits a group of authoritarian rulers to use the cover of the United Nations to legitimize spying on and censoring its citizens. This is an affront to all who believe in freedom. Central planners from foreign governments must be exposed for what they are- rogue dictators- not given another excuse to tighten their oppression."

The subcommittees will also discuss legislation to affirm that it is the policy of the United States to promote a global Internet free from government control. Legislative text will be provided in advance of the hearing.

NOTE: In the 112th Congress, the House and Senate overwhelmingly adopted resolutions opposing efforts at the World Conference on International Telecommunications to regulate the Internet and its content. However, despite the United States' opposition, a new treaty was agreed to that would give the International Telecommunications Union, an agency of the United Nations, authority to regulate the Internet.