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Help Defeat International Regulatory Schemes for the Internet

From the diaries…

Today the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology is examining a dangerous international attempt to regulate and tax the Internet.

Several hostile countries are pursuing the expansion of a 1988 International Telecommunication Regulation (ITR) Treaty under the auspices of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), an agency within the United Nations. Their preferred venue for this back-door power play is the December 2012 World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai.

This morning’s hearing will be watched with great interest around the world as everyone looks to see what the United States says about surrendering exclusive inter-governmental policy controls over things like network governance, technical standards, domain names, content controls, access taxes, cybersecurity and more.

Make no mistake about it: our national sovereignty is at risk. If the expansion of a global legal regime for communication technologies gains traction, the effects to the global economy as well as our individual liberties will be severe.

FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell has said that several foreign dignitaries personally spoke to him about creating a new Internet user fee to subsidize an international universal service fund at the expense of traditional end users. Countries like Iran and China support an Internet Iron Curtain that would censor political dissidents and deny anonymous activity online through mandatory registrations of IP addresses. Russia’s Vladimir Putin has even openly stated his intention to seek, “international control over the Internet using the monitoring and supervisory capabilities of the [ITU].”

Thankfully, there’s bipartisan agreement in Congress that we shouldn’t give new authorities to the ITU. We’re rallying behind the decentralized, multi-stakeholder models that have enhanced flexibility and innovation in the past. Even the Obama Administration should be commended for its efforts to help thwart this attempt. However, it’s also frustrating to think about how this Administration undermined our nation’s credibility in this developing fight against international regulations when it superimposed regulations over management of Internet networks in the United States.

Because America leads the world by example it’s no surprise that some might seek to imitate our domestic rules and regulations on a global scale. Despite our own failures to reign-in the regulatory Leviathan at the FCC, we now need a serious game plan that deals with those who would put international politics ahead of an open and prosperous Internet. We may have our differences on domestic telecommunications policy, but having those policies decided at the international level would be the worst thing for the Internet.

Today’s open and free Internet is an empowering force for good in our world. That’s why we need your voice – tell your Member of Congress and this Administration to beat back any ploy to internationalize control over the Internet. When you do it also ask them to hold our domestic telecommunications regulators at the FCC more accountable, too.

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