CCIA wrote to members of Congress today as they prepare to mark up a new Internet Freedom bill. In the letter to leaders of the Energy and Commerce Committee and its Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, CCIA warned that legislation, designed to reinforce U.S. support for a global open Internet free of international regulation, is not only unnecessary, but could be misused to undermine the authority of the FCC to protect domestic consumer and business access to the Internet, and promote interconnection among U.S.network providers. Another unintended consequence is that pending legislation like this could actually be counterproductive to our united front in sensitive international debates on Internet freedom by appearing to dictate to other nations what acceptable Internet policy is in their home countries.
The bill seeks to codify language from a resolution last year before the World Conference on International Telecommunications that signaled the United States’ commitment to keep the Internet free from inter-governmental control, of the sort certain Internet restricting countries have been pushing for the past year. The problem is this bill could be misinterpreted to block a US government agency from doing its job to protect our own consumers – including its open Internet rule that prevents dominant US Internet access providers from becoming gatekeepers for Internet content. CCIA has long believed that neither government nor private companies should have the power to regulate the Internet. Ensuring affordable ubiquitous consumer and business access to the Internet is a critical part of the FCC’s mandate to make advanced communications services available to all Americans.
CCIA is a longtime supporter of the multi-stakeholder model of global Internet governance. We were part of the U.S. delegation to the ITU meeting in Dubai last year that worked to oppose international government control over the Internet that would interfere with international data flows and online content. This is an ongoing battle fought on many fronts around the world, and CCIA will next engage in the World Technology Policy Forum in Geneva in May. We do understand and support actions that would make a positive difference in the struggle for Internet freedom around the world. Unfortunately, we do not believe domestic legislation would help, and could in fact hurt the cause.