Thursday, August 2, 2012
Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an important House Concurrent Resolution aimed at ensuring the Internet remains an open, stable, and global platform for economic growth, innovation, and cultural and civic discourse. As I have recently testified and written, a battle in the war for the Internet is opening at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a United Nations organization. This December, the ITU is conducting a review of the international agreements governing telecommunications, and some member countries see the ITU conference as an opportunity to expand the ITU’s regulatory authority to reach the Internet.
Traditionally, international discussions of Internet policy have flourished in a “multistakeholder” system that involves the input of lawmakers, academics, civil society, and users. If certain member states are successful in Dubai, they could change the Internet governance process as we know it, increasing state control over networks and substantially limiting the role of users and other vital, nongovernmental actors in important Internet policy debates.
By passing this resolution, the U.S. Government has recognized the Internet’s critical role in growing the global economy, its unique status as a platform for innovation, and the success of multistakeholder model that lies at the heart of its governance. In the lead-up to the December conference, the future of the Internet is at stake, and I hope that other countries will adopt publicly similar positions.