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Critics question wording of Internet freedom bill

Grant Gross | April 11, 2013
Legislation that would make it official U.S. policy to promote a global Internet "free from government control" could restrict the U.S. Federal Communications Commission from using its authority and prevent law enforcement agencies from taking action against cybercriminals, some critics have said.

Congress must make it clear it opposes international regulations of the Internet, added Walden, author of the bill. Last December's WCIT "was the start, not the end, of international efforts to regulate the Internet," he said. "And just as international opponents of an Internet free from government control are redoubling their efforts so, too, must we."

Earlier Wednesday, in letters to the committee, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute, and the Computer and Communications Industry Association also raised concerns about the language in the bill, offered by Walden.

The ambiguous wording of the bill could be seen as U.S. opposition to international groups working together on Internet issues, CDT and New America said.

"In the United States, consumer protection statutes, antitrust laws, and other state and federal regulations have formed a policy framework aimed at protecting users and promoting competition, both online and off," their letter said. "Just as Congress did not want to cede the United States' ability to institute national policy to an international institution, it should not curtail its own ability to address domestic issues through well-considered national legislation developed by a democratically elected Congress."

The subcommittee will continue its markup of the Internet freedom legislation on Thursday.

 

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