US passes resolution to block UN control of the internet

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US passes resolution to block UN control of the internet

Warwick Ashford

The US House of Representatives has voted unanimously to approve a resolution aimed at preventing any efforts to hand the United Nations more power to oversee the Internet.

The resolution by the lower house of the US Congress had previously cleared the House Energy and Commerce Committee with a unanimous vote, according to US reports.

The vote comes just days after the US Department of State issued a statement confirming that the US will resist efforts by China, Russia and their allies to put the internet under the control of the UN.

The official stance is contained in US proposals to be submitted to the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) to be held in Dubai in December.

The House resolution was sparked by concerns that the WCIT negotiations will be used to increase the role of the ITU, the UN's telecommunications agency, in global internet governance.

The resolution was championed by Mary Bono Mack, the Republican representative of California, who said it was the first-of-its-kind referendum on the future of the internet.

The vote "sends a clear and unmistakable message: the American people want to keep the Internet free from government control and prevent Russia, China and other nations from succeeding in giving the UN unprecedented power over Web content and infrastructure," she said in a statement.

The WCIT, convened by the ITU (International Telecommunications Union), will review and potentially revise the International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs) set in 1988.

As part of that review, some ITU members are seeking to establish for the first time ITU dominion over important functions of multi-stakeholder internet governance entities such as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann).

In February, a commissioner of the US Federal Communications Commission warned that upending the consensus-driven private sector multi-stakeholder model with a new regulatory treaty is likely to partition the internet as some countries would inevitably choose to opt out.

"A Balkanised internet would be devastating to global free trade and national sovereignty. It would impair internet growth most severely in the developing world but also globally as technologists are forced to seek bureaucratic permission to innovate and invest. This would also undermine the proliferation of new cross-border technologies, such as cloud computing," Robert McDowell wrote in the Wall Street Journal.


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