By Paul Barbagallo
The House Energy and Commerce Committee is planning to hold a markup June 20
on a resolution urging the White House to oppose efforts by some countries to
give the United States more regulatory control over the internet.
The resolution (H.
Con. Res. 127), sponsored by Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.), chair of the
House subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade, calls on the Commerce
Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the
State Department to “continue working … to promote a global internet free from
government control and preserve and advance the successful multistakeholder
model that governs the internet today.”
The bill has broad support from Republicans and Democrats on the committee,
and is expected to pass easily.
Passage of the measure in the House and Senate will be critical as member
countries of the International Telecommunications Union, including the United
States, prepare to meet in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to renegotiate a U.N.
treaty called the International Telecommunications Regulations, which was
written in 1988 when the internet was barely in its infancy.
“We need to provide the [U.S.] delegation with a clear and unmistakable
mandate: Keep the internet free of international regulation,” said Bono Mack in
her opening statement on the resolution June 19. “In many ways we've facing a
referendum on the future of the internet.”
At the U.N. conference in December, China, Russia, and other countries are
expected to formally propose treaty language to give the ITU, a U.N. agency,
greater oversight over three specific “multistakeholder” groups: the Internet
Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which oversees domain name
administration for the world's dot-coms and dot-orgs; the Internet Society,
which provides guidance to nations on internet standards, education, and policy;
and the Internet Engineering Task Force, which oversees the underlying
functioning of the internet.
So far, the Obama administration is opposed to expanding the ITRs to include
U.S. delegates are hoping to use the talks leading up to the year-end summit
to highlight the benefits of the existing model of internet governance, in which
governments, private companies, and independent organizations all play key
roles--voluntarily--and apart from any one law, treaty, or international
“One of the bright spots of our economy has been the technology arena,” said
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), “… because governments haven't figured out how to
regulate the internet.”
Scalise said some countries' motivations may be to stifle speech on the
internet and punish U.S. tech companies. The internet-based economy is perceived
as increasingly a U.S.-based economy, he said.
“We've see a lot of anti-American activities coming out of the UN … and this
is one of them,” Scalise said.
For the text of the resolution, visithttp://republicans.energycommerce.house.gov/Media/file/Hearings/Telecom/20120531/BILLS-112hconres127ih.pdf.