The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Communications and Technology will be holding hearings this week on the U.N.’s desire to have more control over the regulation of the Internet. While the idea is backed by world powers like Russia, China and India, opposition to increased regulation of the Internet is perhaps the one issue that Republicans and Democrats can find bipartisan agreement on.
The Hill reports that the U.N. measure would divert more control over cybersecurity, data privacy, technical standards and the Web’s address system away from the United States, and would also allow foreign government-owned Internet providers to charge extra for international traffic and allow for more price controls.
At a hearing earlier this month, Sen. Marco Rubio chastised the proposal, noting that China and Russia are "not exactly bastions of Internet freedom."
CNS News notes that opponents of U.N. regulation say the existing state of affairs has been highly successful with the Department of Commerce-contracted nonprofit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), assigning Internet protocol addresses and overseeing Web domains.
FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell warned during an oversight hearing earlier this month the "well-organized international effort to secure intergovernmental control of Internet governance,” should trouble everyone.
"A top-down, centralized, international regulatory overlay is antithetical to the architecture of the Net, which is a global network of networks without borders," McDowell wrote in a February op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. "No government, let alone an intergovernmental body, can make engineering and economic decisions in lightning-fast Internet time. Productivity, rising living standards and the spread of freedom everywhere, but especially in the developing world, would grind to a halt as engineering and business decisions become politically paralyzed within a global regulatory body."
On "Real News" Tuesday, the panel discussed the proposal, and it's implications and likelihood of succeeding.
Guest panelist Matt Kibbe of FreedomWorks commented that he understands why top-down governments would be concerned with the Internet and would to move for increased global regulation of the web.
"This is the tool by which people take back their freedom," said Kibbe. "It's very Hayekian."
Milton Mueller of Syracuse University was interviewed on the program to discuss the matter. While acknowledging that the U.S. may have more authority over the Internet than any other government, Mueller said countries expressing complaints over the U.S.' access to ICANN would likely abuse that power if given it.
Buck Sexton later added that the idea of adding bureaucracy and regulation onto something based on freedom, is an inherently bad idea.