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Public Statements

Policy Regarding Internet Governance

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. ROYCE. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 1580, which reaffirms current policy to preserve and advance the successful multi-stakeholder model that governs the Internet, which is so very critical to our economic and social well-being.

In June 2011, the thirty-four member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, business representatives, and technical experts agreed on principles that included a commitment to promote the open, distributed and interconnected nature of the Internet. The 34 OECD members range from the United States to France to South Korea to Mexico.

This landmark OECD communiqué recognized the importance of the multi-stakeholder approach, stating that ``The Internet's openness to new devices, applications and services has played an important role in its success in fostering innovation, creativity and economic growth.'' That's right.

Yet somehow the United Nations missed the memo. In December 2012, the U.N.'s International Telecommunications Union--a government-only membership body--took a vote on a binding global treaty that would establish the ITU as the forum for Internet standard setting. Despite U.S. opposition, 89 of 144 countries voted for the revised International Telecommunications Regulations. They included China, Cuba, Russia and other countries hostile to political freedom.

In a UN system where each country has one vote--no matter how undemocratic--this UN overreach could shift the idea of Internet governance from what is best for netizens to what is best for a group of governments. There is no need for a UN Internet treaty. The Internet is flourishing in the current multi-stakeholder framework just fine.

In addition, there are serious concerns around the lack of transparency and inclusivity of the UN's ITU process. The Internet has transformed our ability to access and share information--surely Internet policy should not be developed behind the closed doors of the UN.

The U.S. State Department, Commerce Department, business community and civil society leaders must step up their outreach. We must clearly explain the huge economic and social benefits that are derived from the Internet and the policy framework that is needed to maximize those benefits. Going forward, a concerted effort must be made to turn around as many as possible of the 89 votes for the International Telecommunications Regulations.

Congress is unified in our support of an open Internet--we recognize the importance of the Internet to our economy and society. We recognize the threat of proposed international control of the Internet. It is now time to rally the international community against this dangerous policy.

I want to thank Chairman WALDEN for his work on H.R. 1580 and want to recognize the excellent cooperation between the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Foreign Affairs committee on Internet governance. Our committees held a joint hearing in February entitled ``Fighting for Internet Freedom: Dubai and Beyond.'' We will continue to coordinate. And we will certainly continue to fight for Internet Freedom.


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