FCC's Genachowski praises House resolution against U.N. Internet governance
A bipartisan House committee resolution voicing opposition to proposed international regulation of the Internet won praise Thursday from the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously approved the nonbinding resolution a day earlier. The document decries proposals to give the U.N. International Telecommunication Union (ITU) governance of the Internet.
The House resolution--H. Con. Res. 127--agues the Internet should be free of international regulation, and that the United States government should remain committed to the current principles of a decentralized approach to Web governance.
A former chief of business operations at the online giant IAC/InterActiveCorp (Nasdaq: IACI), FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski warned against the Internet oversight proposals backed by China, Russia and India, among other U.N. member states.
"Proposals to abandon the multistakeholder model would be devastating to the future of the Internet, and I will continue to work with my colleagues at the FCC and throughout the U.S. government to oppose such proposals," Genachowski said in a statement.
The U.N. Internet governance plan and other proposals from the 193 ITU member states are tentatively set for discussion at the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai this December.
On the WCIT agenda is a proposal by European Telecommunications Network Operators (ETNO) to impose a senders tax on large-volume, over-the-top content providers. First reported by CNET, the telecom lobbying group is seeking usage-linked fees from content providers.
Under the ETNO proposal, operators would also be allowed to charge enhanced fees for "value-added network services" that guarantee specified quality and reliability.
ETNO argues that major content deliverers have a duty to defray operators' costs of maintaining and building the very networks that allow their sites to reach international markets.
Among the largest data-moving websites that would be affected by a senders' tax are U.S-based Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), social-networking site Facebook (Nasdaq: FB), Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) and the movie-streaming service Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX).
ETNO's sender-tax proposal is not a new idea. France Télécom (NYSE: FTE) and the Spanish carrier Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF) previously called on Internet companies to defray carriers' costs to deliver content.
Other, less controversial WCIT proposals that have been leaked from the secret proceeding include plans to charge the U.N.'s Telecommunication Union with greater powers over technical standards for the Web, cybersecurity and privacy.
U.S. officials have said proposals for ITU Internet regulation could, if enacted, have significant and unintended affects globally.
The House resolution, introduced by Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.), warns that changes in Internet governance would have "profound implications" on international trade, free expression and access to information.
"Despite denials, the Russians and Chinese are working quietly behind the scenes--and have been for years--to exert control over Web content and infrastructure," Bono Mack said. "This could lead to human rights abuses in the future and effectively put a spigot on the free flow of information. We can't let that happen."
The House resolution drew support from business interests, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) and the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI).
Int'l proposals for U.N. Internet regs draw bipartisan rebuke
Operators lobby ITU for rules forcing OTT providers to pay
Apple, Google threatened by global Internet tax
ETNO vies for less stringent regulations
EU reaches agreement on proposed telecom rules