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Public Statements

The Power of the Internet

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to come to the floor this morning and talk just a little bit about free speech and how we exercise that free speech in this country.

I think it is no secret that the Twitterverse and the Internet has been abuzz with a little bit of concern about what the President is planning to do about the Internet and control and governance of the Internet.

I think we all agree that the Internet has had a revolutionary impact on not only this Nation but on the world. You can take a look at what has happened with jobs, with innovation, with economic freedom, and, indeed, with social change.

You see it pronounced because the Internet allows people to participate from the bottom up, receiving information about what their governments are doing, about opportunities that are out there. They have the opportunity to get online and do a little bit of research.

So, with this open ecosystem and this decentralized nature of information, it is benefiting freedom. It is benefiting free people and free markets. We want to see that continue.

Now, like many of my colleagues, I do support a free market, multistakeholders model of Internet governance. And in a perfect world, ICANN, which is the organization with governance of domain names and of the Internet, and IANA would be fully privatized and free from any government influence or control.

However, realistically, we know that China and Russia have a very different view of what would be perfection. Their end goal is to have ICANN and IANA functions migrate to the U.N.'s ITU, which is the International Telecommunications Union. That solution is one that I do not support and one that I would never stand in favor of. I stand in opposition to it.

If the U.S. Department of Commerce is going to relinquish control of its contractual authority over the IANA contract and move control of DNS into a global, multistakeholder community, the timing and the architecture would just have to be absolutely perfect.

This is an area where you have only got one shot of getting it right, only one shot, and we have to make certain that it is a shot that is focused fully on freedom.

If this administration wants to prove to Congress and the international community that they are serious about this process, then they must immediately move to bring an end to the net neutrality movement that is alive and well at our Federal Communications Commission.

Telling Congress and the international community that they are serious about relinquishing control over the IANA contract while simultaneously having the FCC work to promote net neutrality is disingenuous.

While we know Russia has got a land grab going on, we also see the U.N. and the ITU trying to carry forth this space grab.

A lot of our colleagues come to us, Mr. Speaker, and they say, so what are we going to do about this?

I want to highlight two different pieces of legislation with you; first, H.R. 4342. This is the Domain Openness Through Continued Oversight Matters Act, DOTCOM Act. Congressmen SHIMKUS and ROKITA have joined me in this effort.

What we would do is to make certain that there is a prohibition against the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications Information Administration--we call it NTIA here--from turning over its domain name system oversight responsibilities pending a GAO report to Congress.

Let's put this report in front of the action. Let's have a great discussion about what taking that action of relinquishing oversight would mean to each and every person that is assembled in this great room.

How is it going to affect our constituents?

How is it going to affect American innovation?

Let's have those discussions now. Let's not make a mistake.

I also highlight H.R. 4070, a piece of legislation I have authored, the Internet Freedom Act, to bar the FCC and their actions on net neutrality.

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