A bipartisan group of senators, led by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO), today introduced a Senate resolution calling on the U.S. government to reinforce its commitment to Internet freedom by opposing international efforts to cede greater Internet regulatory power to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
The concurrent resolution expresses "the sense of Congress that the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Commerce, should continue working to implement the position of the United States on Internet governance that clearly articulates the consistent and unequivocal policy of the United States to promote a global Internet free from government control and preserve and advance the successful multi-stakeholder model that governs the Internet today."
The resolution is co-sponsored by Senators John McCain (R-AZ), John Kerry (D-MA), Jim DeMint (R-SC), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Tom Udall (D-NM), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Mark Warner (D-VA).
In introducing this resolution, the senators made the following statements:
Senator Marco Rubio: "The Internet as we know it has transformed our societies and economies, and it has thrived because it is open, free, and encourages innovation and information sharing. An international regulatory regime goes against the very nature of the Internet and its purpose of sharing ideas and connecting people. The United States must lead an international effort to prevent authoritarian governments and regimes from diminishing Internet freedom. I look forward to working with our colleagues to continue highlighting this issue and ensure that the Administration does what's necessary."
Senator Claire McCaskill: "Protecting jobs and business in America is something that cuts across party lines, and is exactly the spirit of cooperation we need if we're going to solve tough problems. The technology sector is a true bright spot in our economy today, and now is no time to impose international regulations that could restrict growth. And beyond the economic impacts, I'm not interested in giving oppressive regimes an even greater ability to restrict what their citizens can see, hear, share, and communicate."
Senator John Kerry: "We can't afford to risk the balkanization of an open and global Internet. Unfortunately, a few countries have offered misguided proposals for the 2012 World Conference on International Telecommunications that could fundamentally alter the operation of the Internet, downgrade freedom of expression and substitute government control over content, and undermine the private, voluntary multi-stakeholder model that has propelled the Internet. The United States needs to stand strongly against these proposals. The International Telecommunication Union can and does play an important and useful role in promoting expanded access to information and communications technologies, especially in less developed nations. But it would ultimately be destructive to the developing world and freedom of expression for the organization to place any stamp of approval on centrally imposed regulatory barriers to speech or new tolls on Internet commerce."
Senator Jim DeMint: "America was founded on decentralized power and individual freedom and the Internet in many ways operates on these same guiding principles. These international authoritarian designs are threats to liberty and that's why America should lead the world by opposing them and avoiding government regulation of speech and private property here at home."
Senator Kelly Ayotte: "As oppressed people around the world harness technology to rise up against authoritarian regimes, the United States must safeguard the Internet from the control of hostile governments. This resolution reflects a bipartisan commitment to preserving Internet freedom."
Senator Tom Udall: "The Internet has inspired innovation and expanded our global potential in extraordinary ways. Members of Congress, from both sides of the aisle, should speak with one voice to protect Internet freedom so that others may continue to spread ideas and information around the world."
Senator Mike Johanns: "The Internet is an incredible place for innovation, research, commerce and the free flow of ideas, all of which could be stifled as a result of overregulation and unreasonable censorship. As the U.S. and other countries prepare for the upcoming Conference on International Telecommunication, it is important to preserve the indispensable opportunities provided by the Internet for future generations around the globe."
Senator Mark Warner: "A free Internet supports innovation, transparency, and economic growth, and shouldn't be threatened by political or nationalistic concerns. This resolution demonstrates our continued commitment to the power of an open Internet around the world."
Last year, China, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan proposed an "international code of conduct" in an attempt to justify centralized government control over the Internet and standardize international rules and behavior concerning cyberspace and information. These and other nations have been calling for more international regulation over how the Internet operates at the upcoming World Conference on International Telecommunications in December, when 193 countries will meet in Dubai to update the International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs), where proponents of greater Internet regulation are expected to push to give the United Nations and ITU unprecedented controls over Internet governance.