Rep. Kelly Hosts Capitol Hill Briefing on Future of Internet Governance

Jul 15, 2014

Highlights importance of American stewardship of Internet, 
need for Congressional action to defend Internet freedom

WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) hosted a policy briefing on Capitol Hill today on the future of the Internet’s governance in light of the Obama administration’s abrupt announcement that it does not intend to renew the contract of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), thereby turning over stewardship of the Internet’s crucial functions to the “global multistakeholder community.” The hearing was attended by dozens of Congressional staffers and featured expert analysis by three field experts: Paul Rosenzweig, Visiting Fellow at The Heritage Foundation; Eli Dourado, Research Fellow at the Technology Policy Program at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University; and Philip S. Corwin, Founding Principal of Virtualaw LLC. Rep. Kelly is the sponsor of legislation – the Internet Stewardship Act of 2014 – which prohibits any transfer of the Internet’s critical functions without congressional approval.

Statement by Rep. Kelly:

“America has strong interests in ensuring that freedom of speech and commerce remains maximally protected on the Internet, for the benefit of American citizens as well as for people worldwide. That’s why the Obama administration’s decision to end the U.S. stewardship role and to urge the ‘global multistakeholder community’ to develop a transition proposal warrants serious scrutiny.

“Thus far the National Telecommunications and Information Administration has failed to explain how this transition proposal will be structured or how the U.S. will prevent this new plan for Internet governance from being controlled by a foreign government or group of governments, including authoritarian regimes, or by the United Nations’ International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

“But it’s not just the authoritarian regimes. Even France recently joined with the authoritarians in calling for such a one-country, one-vote model, after its failed proposal at the ICANN conference in London to limit allocations of domain name suffixes, in a naked attempt to protect the French domestic wine industry from free and fair global competition.

“Furthermore, America is not alone in raising concerns with ICANN and the continued freedom of the Internet. ICANN’s Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) recently issued a unanimous statement, on behalf of Internet stakeholders, criticizing ICANN for its lack of transparency and accountability. The GNSO called for the creation of an independent accountability mechanism so that ICANN is not merely accountable to itself.

“Under America’s care, the web has been able to safely expand to unthinkable horizons, enabling new ideas to spread and new markets to grow all over the world. Keeping the Internet free and safe from hostile powers around the globe who by their very nature despise freedom is not just a moral responsibility, but a thoroughly American duty.

“These are difficult challenges. But it is imperative that we as the people’s Congress continue our work to safeguard the freedom of the Internet.”