The Hill‘s Jennifer Martinez reports Congress is not about to let the United Nations have greater control over the Internet:
A joint committee hearing in the House on Tuesday will examine the lasting effects of a United Nations telecommunications treaty on the Internet and the legislative steps Congress can take to protect the current model used to govern the network.
The treaty is the product of a conference hosted by the U.N.‘s International Telecommunications Union (ITU) that wrapped up in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in December. The United States, United Kingdom, Canada and other countries declined to sign the final version of the treaty because of concerns it included measures that would threaten Internet freedom and disrupt the multi-stakeholder model used to govern the Internet.
During the negotiations at the treaty conference, China, Russia and a handful of Middle Eastern countries pushed for governments to have greater control over key technical functions used to manage the Internet. The U.S. opposed such measures.
Part of the hearing, Martinez reports, will be possible legislation making clear the “U.S. policy is to promote Internet freedom and preserve the multi-stakeholder model used to govern the Internet.”
Speaking of potential censorship of the Internet, Jennifer Martinez from The Hill reports on the ongoing efforts to keep the world wide web free from U.N. oversight:
U.S. Ambassador Terry Kramer vowed that the United States will not compromise its principles on human rights, free speech and other issues during negotiations of an international telecommunications treaty in December.
“If there are things that are completely objectionable, that violate our fundamental views about human rights, about free speech, about economic opportunities—if they fundamentally violate it—then we will just say no and absolutely we won’t proceed,” said Kramer, who is leading the U.S. delegation during the negotiations, at a press conference at law firm Wiley Rein on Friday.
The House has already made clear it opposes international governance of the Internet, and the Senate is not far behind.
Last month, the House of Representatives voted to oppose regulation of the Internet by the United Nations (you can read our thoughts on the subject here). Now, Brendan Sasso of The Hill reports, the Senate is also taking up the cause:
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the sponsor of the resolution, said he is not sure when there will be a vote in the full Senate. He said scheduling can be a challenge, but he is hopeful the measure will pass with unanimous support.
“We haven’t found anyone who is against it yet, so that’s a good sign,” Rubio told reporters after the committee vote.
Sen. Rubio’s resolution was approved unanimously by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Yesterday, the House approved Rep. Mary Bono Mack’s resolution to preserve a multi-stakeholder Internet governance model. As Brendan Sasso of The Hill reports:
“Today’s unanimous vote sends a clear and unmistakable message: the American people want to keep the Internet free from government control and prevent Russia, China and other nations from succeeding in giving the U.N. unprecedented power over Web content and infrastructure,” said Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.), who sponsored the resolution. “We cannot let this happen.”
Yesterday, over 80 countries — including the U.S. — backed a United Nations resolution protecting the freedom of the Internet. The resolution...
...Affirms that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, in particular freedom of expression, which is applicable regardless of frontiers and through any media of one’s choice, in accordance with articles 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
Recognizes the global and open nature of the Internet as a driving force in accelerating progress towards development in its various forms;
Calls upon all States to promote and facilitate access to the Internet and international cooperation aimed at the development of media and information and communications facilities in all countries;
Encourages special procedures to take these issues into account within their existing mandates, as applicable;
Decides to continue its consideration of the promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights, including the right to freedom of expression, on the Internet and in other technologies, as well as of how the Internet can be an important tool for development and for exercising human rights, in accordance with its programme of work.
In an op-ed for the New York Times, Sweden’s foreign minister Carl Bildt called the resolution a “victory for the Internet,” writing:
The vote in Geneva on Thursday was a breakthrough of fundamental importance. Beyond affirming that freedom of expression applies also to the Internet, the resolution also recognized the immense value the Internet has for global development and called on all states to facilitate and improve global access to it.
Via CommsDay, the United Nations is getting into the Internet business by starting the Broadband Commission for Digital Development. Among the new commission’s major tasks: an overhaul of worldwide spectrum allocation.