Thursday, June 21, 2012

Don't Let W-C-I-T Become W-I-C-K-E-D

In anticipation of the upcoming World Conference on International Telecommunications ("WCIT") in Dubai this December, the House Energy and Commerce Committee today approved by voice vote a resolution to “preserve and advance the multistakeholder governance model under which the Internet has thrived." The WCIT conference is conducted under the auspices of the UN's International Telecommunications Union. The House of Representatives is expected to consider the resolution, H. Con. Res. 127, in fairly short order. 
Introduced by Rep. Mary Bono Mack of California, the resolution states that the U.S. Government "should continue working to implement the position of the United States on Internet governance that clearly articulates the consistent 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." 
The vote commendably was entirely bipartisan, with the leaders of both parties speaking in favor of the resolution in the Commerce Committee. 
It is very important for the future of the Internet and its multistakeholder governance model that the U.S. continues to fight hard at the WCIT conference and beyond for the position stated the resolution. 
And it bears pointing out that if the U.S. truly is going to be effective in asserting leadership in this area on a long-term basis – because the threats to the Net will not likely end with the WCIT conference – the U.S. government must lead by its own example. Thus, when the concern is to maintain the Internet "free from government control," the U.S. government must be mindful of its own actions. For instance, the FCC's adoption of net neutrality mandates and data roaming regulations are problematic in this respect in that each action asserts government control over aspects of Internet services. 
Perhaps one salutary byproduct from the bipartisan effort to ensure the U.S. leads the fight abroad to keep the Internet free from government control will be to make the FCC more aware than it heretofore has been that it should refrain from taking actions that denigrate the same freedom from control here at home. 
This is an issue that ought to engage all U.S. citizens. If you want to learn more, please watch the C-SPAN video of the Free State Foundation's May 30 seminar at the National Press Club. The program features an outstanding panel including, FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell and Richard Beaird, the U. S. State Department's Senior Deputy Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy. 
And my recent blog, "Free Speech on the Internet, Except in Cases…" explains how some of the proposals put forward for consideration at the WCIT conference would directly threaten the free speech that today largely characterizes the Internet. 
Another venue for keeping up with developments is the newly-established WCITLEAKS.ORG site. 
Stay tuned for more on this as preparations continue for the WCIT conference.