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Public Statements

Saving the Internet from International Bureaucracy

Location: Washington, DC

November 4, 2005

Imagine for a moment soldiers in jeeps with blue helmets surrounding a building in Marina del Rey, California. What reason you might ask would U.N. soldiers have to be in California? They are there to transfer governance of the Internet to the infamous international bureaucracy of the UN.

Of course this scenario is a bit farfetched, but the situation is not completely detached from reality. Many Americans do not know that the Internet's domain name system (DNS), which manages Internet site names, is administered by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). ICANN is a private, non-profit organization based in the U.S. that works with the Department of Commerce to make the Internet function as you know it. Unfortunately, the U.N., with backing from countries like China, Iran, and Cuba recently released a proposal to take control of administration of the Internet from ICANN and give it to a U.N. bureaucratic body.

These countries claim that the U.S. "monopolizes" cyberspace. This could not be further from the truth. ICANN is comprised of representatives of multiple nations, its meetings are held all over the globe, and it is headed by an Australian. Furthermore, ICANN's focus is technical, not political.

As Co-Chairman of the Congressional Internet Caucus, I and many other members of Congress, believe that it is unacceptable for the U.N. to administer the Internet. The United States is uniquely positioned to protect the fundamental principles of free press and free speech on which the Internet has thrived. The U.S. Constitution guarantees these basic rights, and to cede control of the Internet to countries with at best questionable records regarding these rights could jeopardize the continued success of the Internet, and lead to significant restrictions on access to the Internet's wealth of information.

In order to ensure that the Internet remains a tax-free, efficient, global communications network, I along with Congressman Rick Boucher, introduced House Concurrent Resolution 268. This bill expresses the sense of Congress that the current management of the Internet's domain name and addressing service works, and that the administration of the Internet should remain in the U.S. under private control.

We and the other cosponsors of this legislation believe that a privately operated approach to Internet management that fosters market principles is best. The greater the government involvement in running the Internet's day-to-day operations, the more likely that red tape and overly burdensome regulations will result. We must remember that for the Internet to work it needs a light-handed manager, not a bureaucratic governor like the U.N. An Internet that is fractured and censored is not one that can support the economic and social uses that consumers and businesses alike have come to expect.

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