CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Tuesday, May 14, 2013, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 1580, a bill to affirm the policy of the United States regarding Internet governance, under a suspension of the rules. The bill was introduced on March 16, 2013 by Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) and referred to the Committee on the Energy and Commerce, which reported the bill by voice vote.
H.R. 1580 reaffirms standing United States policy to preserve and advance the successful multistakeholder model that governs the Internet.
Global use of the Internet is currently governed by a structure known as the “multistakeholder model,” meaning that governments, users, academics and many others all provide input into the decisions that create global use standards. This model has enabled the Internet to grow and evolve into a powerful engine of freedom and economic growth across the world.
Over the years, there have been attempts by governments and international governing bodies to increase state regulation of the Internet. Most recently, at the World Conference on International Telecommunications, some nations sought to bring the Internet under the treaty that governs other forms of international communications. According to the Committee on Energy & Commerce, this was of particular concern because it provided justification for censorship in the name of national security and could serve as the beginning of international regulation of the Internet. Anticipating this, in December 2012, Congress unanimously passed S.Con.Res. 50, which expressed the sense of Congress that the United States delegation to the Conference should advance and protect the multistakeholder model, which is the basis of an unregulated Internet.
While over 50 countries joined the United States in opposing the changes, unfortunately 89 countries did sign the new treaty. Additionally, there are many upcoming international conferences which will provide countries with additional opportunities to further regulate the Internet. H.R. 1580 takes the ideas from S.Con.Res. 50, which were only related to a particular treaty negotiation, and elevates them into law, establishing a generalized U.S. policy.
In the 112th Congress, the House unanimously passed two similar bills, H.Con.Res. 127 by a recorded vote of 414-0 (Roll no. 555) on August 2, 2012, and S.Con.Res. 50 by a recorded vote of 397-0 (Roll no. 617) on December 5, 2012.
CBO estimates that H.R. 1580, “would not have an effect on spending subject to appropriation because the workloads of those agencies would not be affected.”