WASHINGTON — U.S. officials, lawmakers and technology leaders offered a resounding "no" on May 30 to proposals to bring the Internet under United Nations' control and said they would lead efforts to stop the move.
At a congressional hearing, the comments were united in opposition to place the Internet under the jurisdiction of the International Telecommunications Union, a UN agency which governs telecom systems.
A top State Department official, in prepared remarks, reaffirmed the opposition of the Obama administration to UN governance of the Internet.
"In all bilateral encounters and multilateral meetings, the United States consistently opposes the extension of intergovernmental controls over the Internet," said Philip Verveer, deputy assistant secretary of state and coordinator for IT policy, saying this would lead to "very bad outcomes."
"It inevitably would diminish the dynamism of the Internet," he said.
The comments come ahead of a meeting in December of the ITU where some nations will be pressing for the agency to formally govern the Internet.
Some nations, including Russia and China, say the Internet is still controlled by the United States and that a UN effort would give a greater voice to the developing world.
But many in the U.S. fear a UN-governed Internet would give authoritarian nations the power to throttle free speech, and allow others to impose tariff or other restrictions.
A staff memo to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which called the hearing, said handing over the Internet to the UN "could jeopardize not only its vibrancy, but also the economic and social benefits it brings to the world."
Vint Cerf, a computer scientist often called the "father of the Internet," who is now Google's "chief Internet evangelist," also expressed concern about the proposal.
"The Internet's success has generated a worrying desire by some countries' governments to create new international rules that would jeopardize the network's innovative evolution and its multi-faceted success," he said in prepared remarks.
A move to UN control, he said, "holds profound — and I believe potentially hazardous — implications for the future of the Internet and all of its users. If all of us do not pay attention to what is going on, users worldwide will be at risk of losing the open and free Internet that has brought so much to so many."