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Sense of Congress on Governance of the Internet

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Unknown

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

This week, representatives from 193 countries are meeting in Dubai to reexamine an international treaty dealing with telecommunications. Several hostile countries are seeking to use this opportunity to impose new international regulations on the Internet.

We need to send a strong message to the world that the Internet has thrived under a decentralized, bottom-up, multistakeholder governance model. That is why I stand in strong support of Senator Rubio's Senate Concurrent Resolution 50. The U.S. is united in its opposition to international control over Internet governance, and we've seen leadership pushing back against ceding more power to the International Telecommunication Union. It is referred to as the ``ITU.'' It's a branch of the United Nations.

Some want to give it new powers. Several countries see the Internet as a tool for political and/or economic control that they want to exploit. For example, Russia's Vladimir Putin has openly stated his intention to seek ``international control over the Internet using the monitoring and supervisory capabilities of the ITU.'' Just last week, the Syrian Government shut off Internet access as the regime sought to suppress the free exchange of information among its private citizens. But it's because the Internet is the ultimate tool of political and economic liberation that we should foster and protect it, not give those who fear its impact on politics and the economy the power to repress its continued innovation and untapped potential.

I also want to make an important point about our legitimacy in the fight to keep the Internet thriving, democratic, and decentralized. Unfortunately, we did undermine our credibility when the Federal Communications Commission imposed net neutrality regulations without the proper statutory authority to do so. Even Ambassador Verveer at the State Department had made the point. He said in 2010 that the net neutrality proceeding ``is one that could be employed by regimes that don't agree with our perspectives about essentially avoiding regulation of the Internet and trying to be sure not to do anything to damage its dynamism and its organic development. It could be employed as a pretext or as an excuse for undertaking public policy activities that we would disagree with pretty profoundly.''

We need to pass S. Con. Res. 50 and rebuild our credibility in support of Internet freedom. Regulating beyond our authority at home sets a very bad example when we want to oppose truly devastating regulations at the international level. Despite our domestic disagreements on telecom policy, one thing both sides of the aisle can agree on is that we should uphold the Internet governance model that's working. Let's not try to fix what's not broken.

In Dubai, we want our country promoting private markets and U.S. interests. Let's encourage the decentralized governance model that's been successful in the past, and let's show leadership instead of giving away broad regulatory powers to those who don't deserve and who should not have it.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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