Lawmakers introduce measure to fight UN regulation of the Net

A bipartisan group of lawmakers on the House Energy and Commerce Committee introduced a resolution on Wednesday urging the Obama administration to oppose efforts to give the United Nations more control over the Internet.

Proposals to give the UN's International Telecommunication Union (ITU) more control over the governance of the Internet could come up at a conference in Dubai in December. The move is backed by China, Russia, Brazil, India and other UN members, but is opposed by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, as well as the Obama administration.

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The proposals would give the UN more control over cybersecurity, data privacy, technical standards and the Web’s address system. They would also allow foreign, government-owned Internet providers to charge extra for international traffic and allow for more price controls.

The Internet is currently governed under a “multi-stakeholder” approach that gives power to a host of nonprofits, rather than governments.

The resolution introduced Wednesday would encourage the United States delegation “to promote a global Internet free from government control and preserve and advance the successful multi-stakeholder model that governs the Internet today.” 

Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) introduced the resolution with the support of Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and ranking subcommittee member Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.).

The Communications and Technology Subcommittee will hold a hearing on Thursday morning to examine the UN plan.

Witnesses will include Philip Verveer, a deputy assistant secretary of State; Robert McDowell, a Republican commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission; and Vint Cerf, a computer scientist often referred to as the "father of the Internet."