Last year, in advance of the World Conference on International Telecommunication, Congress passed a concurrent resolution stating its sense that US officials should promote and articulate the clear and 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.” This language sailed through the House on a bipartisan basis with broad support from basically everyone in US civil society.
Now that WCIT is over, and the World Telecommunication/ICT Policy Forum looms, Congress is considering a law that reads:
It is the policy of the United States to promote a global Internet free from government control and to preserve and advance the successful multistakeholder model that governs the Internet.
And suddenly it’s controversial. Democrats are concerned that language about freedom “from government control” would apply to—gasp—the US government.
As Rep. Walden says,
Last Congress, we “talked the talk” and passed a resolution defending a global Internet free from government control. This Congress we must “walk the walk” and make it official U.S. policy. If this is a principle we truly believe in, there is no downside to stating so plainly in U.S. law.
I could not agree more.
I am especially disappointed by our friends at CDT. They are coming out against the bill, with both blog post and letter barrels blazing, after having supported the exact same language last year. Apparently, in CDT’s world: US government regulation of the Internet good, foreign government regulation of the Internet bad.
This episode shows the prescience of my colleagues Jerry Brito and Adam Thierer. As they wrote last year when Congress was considering the joint resolution:
The most serious threat to Internet freedom is not the hypothetical specter of United Nations control, but the very real creeping cyber-statism at work in the legislatures of the United States and other nations.
CDT gets this exactly backwards. Here’s hoping they change their minds yet again.