House panel: ITU should stay away from Internet regulation

A resolution passed by a House committee says the U.S. supports an Internet free from government control

A U.S. House of Representatives committee has told the United Nations' International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to keep its hands off the Internet.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee voted Wednesday to approve House Concurrent Resolution 127, which urges President Barack Obama's administration to continue to stress that it is the "consistent and unequivocal policy of the United States to promote a global Internet free from government control."

U.S. lawmakers and some Internet advocates are worried that some member countries of the ITU will push for new Internet taxes or U.N. control of the Internet during a December treaty-writing meeting of the ITU in Dubai.

ITU observers in the U.S. say they expect proposals that will create new taxes in the form of Internet traffic termination fees and efforts to transfer Internet governance from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and other organizations to the U.N. The ITU has not made member proposals public, although the website WCITleaks.org has posted some leaked documents.

The House resolution, sponsored by Representative Mary Bono Mack, a California Republican, passed the committee by voice vote. Proposals likely to come before the ITU would "diminish the freedom of expression on the Internet in favor of government control over content," the resolution said.

The upcoming World Conference On International Telecommunications could give some countries an opening to "provide the United Nations with unprecedented new authority over the management of the Internet," Bono Mack said in a statement.

"In many ways, we're facing a referendum on the future of the Internet," she added. "A vote for my resolution is a vote to keep the Internet free from government control and to prevent Russia, China and other nations from succeeding in giving the U.N. unprecedented power over Web content and infrastructure."

The resolution had bipartisan support. The current approach to governance, with many groups involved, has created an Internet platform "supporting thousands of innovative companies, applications and services, not just in the United States but in communities around the world," said Representative Anna Eshoo, a California Democrat.

Proposals during the ITU meeting could "signify a fundamental departure" from the way the Internet is governed, Eshoo said during a hearing Tuesday.

Several U.S. technology trade groups praised the committee for passing the resolution.

"Some in the Internet community have downplayed the threat posed by the U.N., but it seems like every day that another UN member state gives us reason to doubt their commitment to Internet freedom," Steve DelBianco, executive director of e-commerce trade group NetChoice, said in an email.

DelBianco pointed to a recently passed law in Ethiopia that makes it a crime to use the Internet to make voice calls.

Before moving to a style of Internet governance where every nation can push for new policies, "we should have a sober understanding that many of those governments will vote to have the U.N. make the rules," he added.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?