Yesterday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously voted to advance legislation, sponsored by Communications and Technology Subcommittee chairman Greg Walden, that would make opposition to international efforts to regulate the internet official US policy. The legislation affirms a previous bipartisan resolution that was passed by the House and Senate prior to the World Conference on International Telecommunications in December of 2012.
The legislation states only that US policy is to “preserve and advance the successful multi-stakeholder model that governs the internet.” Unfortunately, previous drafts which contained stronger language including that the US aims to “promote a global Internet free from government control” were watered down to achieve bipartisan support. While the bipartisan nature of the legislation makes it much more likely to pass the Senate, there is certainly an odd contradiction when Democrats vehemently oppose international efforts to regulate the internet while just as vehemently advancing efforts such as net neutrality that would regulate the web domestically.
Digital Liberty and Americans for Tax Reform have long supported efforts to push back against attempts at international internet regulation such as those pushed through at the WCIT. Yesterday’s Committee vote is an encouraging step in the fight against what FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell called “patient and persistent incrementalists” who want to alter the multi-stakeholder model. Hopefully efforts to resist regulation abroad will be paired with those that resist similar mistakes at home.