Senate panel unanimously opposes giving U.N. more Internet control

The fight for control of the Internet goes on with the United States taking a stance against what appears to be much of the rest of the world.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is now on record as unanimously opposing a proposal to give the United Nations' International Telecommunication Union (ITU) more control over governance of the Internet. The issue is expected to come up at a conference in Dubai in December, and the committee wanted to be ahead of it with its resolution and potentially the support of the full Senate.

The committee resolution is another step in wide-scale U.S. opposition to a proposal that is reportedly being backed by China, Russia and other U.N. members to give the ITU more control over cybersecurity, data privacy, technical standards and the Web's address system.

Those features are currently governed via a "multi-stakeholder" approach that gives power to a plethora of nonprofits and keeps governments out of Internet regulation, according to a story in The Hill, which said further that the resolution was intended to "promote a global Internet free from government control and preserve and advance the successful multi-stakeholder model that governs the Internet today."

The Obama administration has already stated it is strongly opposed to any changes, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the committee's sponsor, said he is "hopeful" that a full Senate resolution will be passed as well--he just can't say when that would happen.

"I just want to be clear that America is on record as being in favor or Internet freedom and that we don't want to see any internationally recognized right for government interference on the Internet and the free flow of information on the Internet," Rubio said, according to The Hill.

Missouri Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill, a legislation co-sponsor, tied the Senate action to support for business growth and development unfettered by government interference.

"I'll continue to fight to ensure our bipartisan bill gets a vote on the Senate floor and that we continue to work across the aisle to encourage business growth and development, and that we're not giving oppressive regimes more tools to silence democratic dissent by their people," a McCaskill statement said.

The vote was backed by cable's NCTA trade organization which said it sends a "strong message that the flow of information free from government control is vital to democracy, commerce, education and much more across the globe." The Software & Information Industry Association, also in favor of the vote, added "[w]e must put the full weight of the United States behind efforts to maintain a global Internet free from unnecessary international governmental control."

For more:
The Hill has this story

Industry Voices: Walking the walk on Internet regulation

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