Mar 28 2014
By Senator Marco Rubio
March 28, 2014
Since its inception the Internet has transformed the world and flourished with minimal government intervention, and it has made education easier and more accessible, opened businesses to tens of millions of new customers, and revolutionized the spread of news and information.
It has given a new voice to the yearning desire for freedom all over the world and provided the infrastructure necessary to give rise to powerful pro-democratic revolutions and economic prosperity.
For these reasons and so many more, the Internet has become one of humanity’s greatest treasures. It must now be protected as such.
For, while the Internet has given much to people all over the world, it has also posed a great threat to those governments that seek to subjugate and control their people. Many of these governments – 42 to be exact – have already taken action to limit or restrict their people’s access to the Internet. Many of them have demonstrated a desire to take this a step further by exercising control over the way the Internet is governed internationally.
The United States must vocally and vehemently oppose any attempt to allow the Internet to fall under the control of foreign governments or international organizations like the United Nations.
The administration and Congress must lead the cause of defending Internet freedom because international actions are being taken to uproot the current model of Internet governance. That is why the Obama administration’s recent announcement must be carefully considered and understood.
On March 14 the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced that it would not renew its contract with the Internet Corporation for Names and Numbers (ICANN) to administer the Internet’s domain name system.
This transition has been in the making for years and in principle is intended to keep nations like China and Russia from exerting influence and control over the Internet.
There is considerable uncertainty about why this decision was made and how this process will unfold. Given the Obama administration’s record, there is justifiable skepticism about whether or not this it is competent enough to manage this transition.
We have seen this administration make commitments and draw “red lines” in the sand, only to learn later that those lines are negotiable.
We have seen this administration establish deadlines, only to learn later that those deadlines are not firm.
The commitment to a multi-stakeholder model that is free from the interference of institutions like the United Nations and countries that do not share our desire for a free and open Internet is a positive one. But this is also a complex process that requires vigilance and rigorous oversight because in this situation there can be no compromise or weakness.
An Internet overseen by governments will mean an end to the current Internet that has transformed the world and advanced freedom and prosperity.
There is no question that Internet freedom has many opponents, including countries that advocate for greater international control over the Internet and use the Internet to suppress the individual liberties of their own citizens. These countries do not care for the multi-stakeholder model of governance or our commitment to it.
That is why, in 2012, Congress unanimously expressed support for the bottom-up, multi-stakeholder model that currently governs the Internet and for an Internet free from government control.
I sponsored this resolution along with a bipartisan group of senators. There was no debate or question about the passage of this resolution or the policies in it.
The United States Congress took a strong stand for Internet freedom. Now the administration must do the same. Any action the Administration takes in carrying out this announcement, any proposal it considers from the global community, and any decision it makes to transition the domain functions must abide by this resolution.
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