[AfrICANN-discuss] U.S. Reps. Introduce Resolution to Bar UN Regulation of Internet

Anne-Rachel Inné annerachel at gmail.com
Thu Mar 29 15:23:09 SAST 2012

U.S. Reps. Introduce Resolution to Bar UN Regulation of
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by Raven Clabough
Wednesday, 28 March 2012 15:24

Citing a September letter from China, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan
outlining their plan to introduce a UN resolution on Internet governance,
U.S. Representatives Michael McCaul (R-Texas, left) and Jim Langevin
(D-R.I.) have sponsored
Concurrent Resolution 114 to prevent such an action.

According to the Congressional Cybersecurity
the pair, "Co-Chairs of the House Cybersecurity Caucus, introduced
legislation [Mar. 27] urging the United States Permanent Representative to
the United Nations to oppose any resolution that would allow regulation of
the Internet."

McCaul and Langevin note that HCR 114 is consistent with President Obama’s
policy to “preserve, enhance and increase access to an open, global
Internet.” In a statement, McCaul added:

Any action taken by the United Nations to attempt to limit Americans’ right
to free and open Internet content is unacceptable. The Internet’s current
multi-stakeholder model has provided an unburdened environment for ideas
and inventions to thrive. No single state should have control over content
and information must be freely disseminated.

Likewise, Langevin asserted:

The proposals by some nations to gain international approval of policies
that could result in Internet censorship would be a significant setback for
anyone who believes free expression is a universal right. It must be made
clear that efforts to secure the Internet against malicious hacking do not
need to interfere with this freedom and the United States will oppose any
attempt to blur the line between the two.

Langevin and McCaul are not the only ones concerned about the potential for
a UN resolution to censor the Internet. FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell
has issued repeated warnings against the United Nations’ regulation of the

The fear appears to be well-founded and has been expressed by critics from
across the political spectrum. The* Huffington Post*

Internet freedom is in the international crosshairs of a large group of
nations, including many of the world's most undemocratic governments,
seeking to give themselves control over Internet policy. Their target is
the creation of new international legal rules that would allow them to
legitimately impose censorship and monitor users' online activities.

The* Post* notes that even when Internet regulation is passed for seemingly
noble reasons, such as the protection of intellectual property, it can then
be used for a variety of reasons beyond its original purpose.

Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and a number of other
nondemocratic-to-tyrannical governments are pushing for an international
regulation of the Internet through an agency of the United Nations: the
International Telecommunication Union (ITU). They want a “cyber arms
control treaty,” which would give governments the power to censor any
online information they do not like as “a danger to the state.”

These authoritarian countries have pushed an agenda to censor the Internet
in a variety of forums. In 2011, they suggested at the UN General Assembly
that a code of conduct be introduced for the use of the Internet through
international law. They also proposed the creation of a separate UN “super
agency” to be responsible for managing all aspects of Internet policy.

According to a 2010 article in the *World Affairs Journal*, "If diplomats
are not careful, one by-product of a push to regulate state-on-state cyber
conflict could be a new effort to subject Internet activity to political
scrutiny." It also pointed to the efforts at the ITU as a telling example
of this trend.

Last year, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin met with the head of the
ITU and declared “international control over the Internet” to be vital.

Former UN Ambassador David Gross contends that in the upcoming major ITU
conference being planned by officials — the World Conference on
International Telecommunications (WCIT) — countries such as China and
Russia will once again attempt to expand the authority of the ITU.

The *Huffington Post* observes:

Russia, China and their partners are expected to use this conference
intended to renegotiate the ITU's telecommunications regulations to expand
its mandate to regulate the Internet. To succeed, they need a majority of
the 193 member states to agree. The proposals could dramatically change
everything from access and affordability of the Internet to oversight by
the ITU — and therefore governments — of ICANN, the IETF and other
organizations responsible for elements of the Internet's architecture.
Unlike the ITU, these organizations use a multi-stakeholder approach where
all voices are a part of the process of decision-making — but none control
the others.

FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell pointed out in a *Wall Street
Journal*editorial last month that those who support Internet freedom
should be
playing “offense,” not “defense,” when it comes to the Internet.

Both the House bill Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Senate bill
Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) were allegedly intended to combat
piracy of intellectual property; however, both measures contain dangerous
provisions that would require Internet service providers to block offending
sites and search engines. The result of such legislation would amount to
virtual censorship.

On January 18, thousands of websites, including Reddit and Wikipedia,
blacked out in protest against the two bills and posted messages urging
users to oppose them as well. Millions of Americans signed the
anti-SOPA/PIPA petitions that circulated throughout the Internet that day,
and as a result of the massive protest, the two measures were put on hold

However, while the American people were focused on SOPA and PIPA, President
Obama signed an international
would permit foreign companies to demand that Internet service
providers (ISPs) remove web content in the United States without any legal
oversight and without significant attention. Entitled the
Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), the treaty was signed by the
President on October 1, 2011, but it is currently a subject of discussion
as the White House is circulating a petition demanding that Senators ratify
the treaty.

What’s worse is that the White House has done some maneuvering so that the
treaty can be implemented without being confirmed by the Senate, as the
Constitution requires. Instead, it is presenting the treaty as an
“executive agreement.” By doing this, the entire legislative process has
now been circumvented, bypassing the required Senate approval — a concern
raised by Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

“That said, even if Obama has declared ACTA an executive agreement (while
those in Europe insist that it’s a binding
there is a very real Constitutional
Can it actually be an executive agreement?” asks TechDirt. “The law is
clear that the only things that can be covered by executive agreements are
things that involve items that are solely under the President’s mandate.
That is, you can’t sign an executive agreement that impacts the things
Congress has control over. But here’s the thing: intellectual property, in
Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, is an issue given to Congress,
not the President. Thus, there’s a pretty strong argument that the
president legally cannot sign any intellectual property agreements as an
executive agreement and, instead, must submit them to the Senate.”

There are currently 26 European Union member states, in addition to the
European Union, that signed the treaty at a ceremony in Tokyo on January
26. Other nations interested in signing the agreement have until May 2013
to do so.

According to Wikipedia, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement “creates a
governing body outside national institutions such as the World Trade
Organization (WTO), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) or
the United Nations.” The scope of the agreement includes counterfeit goods,
generic medicines, and pirated copyright protected works.

However, it seems some of America’s lawmakers have been awakened to the
attack on the Internet and to the American people's opposition to it.
Whether that will ensure that the Internet remains safe, however, remains
to be seen.
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