Two events in Washington, D.C., this week will help to set the tone for critical discussions among governments and stakeholders about the future of Internet governance.
First, some background. This December in Dubai, intergovernmental delegations from across the globe will gather for the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) to update the United Nations' International Telecommunication Union (ITU) treaty-level telecomm regulations. There are several proposals under consideration which are raising major alarm bells for those of us who care deeply about a free and open Internet. These range from establishment of an “information security” regime that could be used to justify greater Internet censorship and tracking, the regulation of rates for the exchange of Internet traffic that could be used by countries for competitive advantage, and making ITU standards mandatory for all Member States -- a move that would undermine the global voluntary, consensus-based standards system that has helped to fuel technology innovation.
On Wednesday, ITI will welcome Ambassador Terry Kramer for a discussion about WCIT and these deeply concerning proposals. Ambassador Kramer was appointed in June to lead the U.S. delegation to the Dubai sessions. He will discuss strategy for ensuring that decisions made at the Dubai conference do not unduly disrupt or interfere with the free flow of online communications and commerce. He’ll talk with ITI members and the public about the U.S. position, and lay out how we can help to influence the Dubai discussions.
Also this week, the House of Representatives is expected to give solid bipartisan backing to a resolution that strongly supports the “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 resolution – H. Con. Res. 127 – has 63 Republican and Democratic cosponsors, and we think it will receive considerable support in the full House. The Senate has its own version of the resolution, S. Con. Res. 50, with 28 bipartisan cosponsors. ITI and our members are squarely behind each resolution.
ITI and our member companies have long championed protecting and preserving the Internet as an engine for innovation and progress around the globe. What makes the Internet thrive isn’t government control, but global collaboration and individual creativity. Stakeholder groups work in voluntary, collaborative approaches to set standards which, since the creation of the Web, have helped to foster unprecedented growth and innovation in fields from technology to medicine to manufacturing, and revolutionized the way people across the globe work, learn, and play. Shifting from this open, consensus-based approach to government-dominated control would stifle market-led competition and rob Internet users of much of the freedom they enjoy online today.
We welcome Ambassador Kramer to ITI, and we pledge to work with him and other global leaders who share our commitment to protect the Internet for innovation, collaboration, and individual freedom.