Rep. Kelly Introduces Internet Stewardship Act of 2014

Bill would keep Internet free from foreign crack-downs

WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) – a member of the House Ways and Means Committee – issued the following statement today after introducing H.R. 4367, the Internet Stewardship Act of 2014, which would prevent the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) from ever surrendering critical functions of the Internet – currently stewarded by the United States – to any other body without explicit congressional approval through the enactment of legislation signed by the president.

“The Obama administration’s plan to give up U.S. stewardship over vital functions of the Internet is extremely troubling. Whether the administration acknowledges it or not, America has strong interests in ensuring that freedom of speech and freedom of commerce are protected on the Internet, for the benefit of American citizens as well as for people worldwide.

“Since the 1990s, American protection of the Internet has provided reliability and certainty to Internet users – from individuals to businesses – in every corner of the globe. The Internet Stewardship Act of 2014 would preserve this successful model from ever being changed unless the president persuades Congress that it is the right time to act through legislation. The power and reach of the Internet are far too important to liberty to ever be surrendered to forces that could potentially use their power to limit the Internet’s reach and suppress the free flow of ideas.”

NOTE: The introduction of this legislation comes after the NTIA announced on March 14, 2014, that it intends to relinquish control of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) on September 30, 2015. The NTIA declared its intent “to transition key Internet domain name functions to the global multistakeholder community” and that as “the first step,” ICANN must now “convene global stakeholders to develop a proposal to transition the current role played by NTIA.” According to leading media expert Gordon Crovitz, writing in The Wall Street Journal, “Russia, China and other authoritarian governments have already been working to redesign the Internet more to their liking, and now they will no doubt leap to fill the power vacuum caused by America's unilateral retreat.”