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US Congress condemns UN regulation of the internet

06 Dec 2012
Capitol Hill

The US Congress has passed a resolution opposing foreign regulation of the internet.

News of the bill's passing comes as United Nation (UN) officials gather in Dubai to renegotiate the International Telecommunications Regulations treaty. Along with the US, the European Commission (EC) has also decided to oppose any UN regulations that clashes with EC internet law.

"As our delegation's work is underway in Dubai, this vote sends an important signal that Congress is united in the view that the internet is a vibrant and growing tool in creating jobs and business opportunities, that should be protected," said US senator and bill co-author senator Claire McCaskill.

Much has been made of the recent World Telecommunication Standardisation Assembly (WTSA-12).

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a UN agency, has begun the assembly in an attempt to update the International Telecommunication Regulation treaty. The treaty has remained untouched for the last 20 years.

Some worry that the update to the treaty will come with excessive UN control of the internet. US Senator Marco Rubio said he worried some UN members would use the summit to make ill-advised changes to the current treaty.

"In a relatively brief period, the internet has already transformed the world by the free and open spread of ideas, information and communication. The internet has been instrumental in the launch of democracy in many emerging nations throughout the world," said Senator Rubio.

"Unfortunately, some countries view the ongoing conference as an opportunity to fundamentally change the current governance model that has allowed the internet to thrive. These proposals must be stopped. That is why I have led the fight in the Senate to oppose these efforts and defend Internet freedom."

The EC has also opposed any fundamental changes to the treaty. Last month, EU officials stated they would oppose any UN regulations that go against current EU common rules.

For their part, ITU officials have pledged to not pass any legislation that would hinder freedom of speech on the internet. The pledge was done in part to slow the backlash coming from the WTSA-12 assembly.

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James Dohnert

James is a freelance writer and editor. In addition to ClickZ, his work has appeared in publications like V3, The Commonwealth Club,, and Shonen Jump magazine. He studied Journalism at Weber State University.

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