The House of Representatives sent a strong signal to the rest of the world today that we must preserve a free and open Internet.
In December, the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) will meet to update the United Nations’ International Telecommunication Union (ITU) treaty-level telecomm regulations. As we’ve discussed here before, preliminary proposals by some other governments could expand regulatory oversight of the Internet -- a move ITI strongly opposes and one that the House of Representatives today overwhelmingly rejected. Proposals of concern anticipated range from establishment of an “information security” regime that could be used to justify greater Internet censorship and tracking, the regulation of rates for the exchange of Internet traffic that could be used by countries for competitive advantage, and making ITU standards mandatory for all Member States -- a move that would undermine the voluntary, consensus-based standards system that has helped to fuel technology innovation around the globe.
The House vote makes clear that it is the “unequivocal policy of the United States to promote a global Internet free from government control and preserve and advance the successful multistakeholder model that governs the Internet today.” The resolution -- H. Con. Res. 127 -- passed without a single vote against. The final tally in support was 414 to zero.
As we have written about on this blog before (and as Ambassador Kramer – the head of the U.S. delegation to the WCIT -- talked about at great length during his roundtable at ITI this week), the Internet’s success is that it is free from government control. It develops at the speed of innovation and with the creativity of imagination. Stakeholder groups work in voluntary, collaborative approaches to set standards which, since the creation of the Web, have helped to foster unprecedented growth and innovation in fields from technology to medicine to manufacturing, and revolutionized the way people across the globe work, learn, and play. The proposals being considered for the WCIT would place that success in jeopardy. They would stifle market-led competition and rob Internet users of the freedom online that we enjoy today.
The House vote today was an important step to underscore for the world that the United States will stand firmly against regulation of the Internet, and strongly for online freedom. It also highlights the unity of the Congress, in both parties, and the Executive Branch on this critical topic. ITI will continue to press global leaders and stakeholders to join this effort to protect a free and open Internet. We invite you to stand with us.