Congressional Committee Seeks to Uphold Free Internet Against U.N. ‘Power Grab’
On Thursday a House Energy and Commerce Committee met to discuss a proposed resolution that would “preserve and protect a global Internet” from the United Nations which is seeking broader regulatory authority.
On Wednesday, the committee introduced a resolution that would “reject the proposed international takeover of the Internet and preserve the current ‘multi-stakeholder’ model of governance.”
According to the Reuters, an International Internet Union will be discussed at the World Conference on International Telecommunications in December. Here’s more about how the Internet is currently governed:
The Internet is currently policed loosely, with technical bodies such as the Internet Engineering Task Force, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers and the World Wide Web Consortium largely dictating its infrastructure and management. The United States holds significant sway with those bodies.
When the delegations gather in Dubai, they will renegotiate a UN treaty last revisited in 1988 and debate whether to consolidate control over the Internet with the UN’s International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
The ITU is used to set communications standards, such as deciding when technologies can be labeled 4G and approving a standard for a universal telephone charger.
“In a time of economic uncertainty and turmoil, the Internet remains a job creation engine that fosters innovation, brings the people of the world together in new ways, and drives global discussion of important social matters,” Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) said in a statement. “The Internet has become this economic and social juggernaut not because governmental actors willed it to be so, but because the government took a step back and let the private sector drive its evolution. International regulatory intrusion into the Internet would have disastrous results not just for the United States, but for people around the world. I appreciate my colleagues on both sides of the aisle working together to send a strong message that we support the multi-stakeholder model.”
Reuters states the December meeting will be among 193 countries that will discuss the potential for U.N. Internet regulation. In addition to this congressional committee’s proposal to protect a free Internet, the Obama administration has also met with corporation and advocacy groups in the past weeks to gauge where they stood. Reuters reported an unnamed State Department official saying this is “one of those circumstances where I think it’s fair to say there’s absolute unanimity” among the government, advocacy groups and private parties in the U.S.
Reuters reports former State Department ambassador David Gross, currently a partner at Wiley Rein, said at the December meeting the U.S. will need to be careful to not attack the U.N.’s telecommunications authority but instead establish a coalition with other countries holding a similar position as the United States.
The committee’s testimony is being live-streamed here.
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