There has been a growing push over the past decade by some other countries to exert international control over the Internet. The tech industry joins those who are concerned about upcoming efforts to use a UN agency, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), set up in the 19th century to focus on telegraph communications to regulate the Internet. The Computer & Communications Industry Association appreciates the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology for holding today’s hearing on this threat to our economy and free speech.

The following can be attributed to Computer & Communications Industry Association Vice President Cathy Sloan:

“While we celebrated the Arab spring, we’re now seeing one of the repercussions. More countries see the Internet as a threat to government control. Internet restricting countries are telling the other countries with a vote in the ITU that if governments can gain more control over the Internet through this agency, they can put a stop to everything from blasphemy to spam to cybercrime. That’s an attractive argument both to those who genuinely want to restrict political activism and free speech and to those who don’t really understand how the Internet works. Countless economic opportunities would be lost with a Balkanized Internet and more government control – as opposed to the multi-stakeholder governance structure we have now. There have been other threats to Internet freedom before and there are other threats beyond UN control, but the concern now is these changes could be implemented if Russia and China can amass a simple majority of votes before the December meeting in Dubai.

“There should be only the absolute minimum necessary restrictions on what the people of the world can say, buy or find online, and that is much easier to preserve if we do not cede to governments more authority that will no doubt be used to regulate Internet content. We must discipline ourselves to resist the temptation to try and regulate the Internet against social ills.

“U.S diplomats should work with like-minded nations and the multinational private sector to discourage ITU regulation of the Internet NOT because we inthe U.S. don’t want it, but because it would fracture the unitary worldwide Internet and hurt economic growth and innovation in all nations of the world.”

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