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Lawmakers Promote a Free Internet

Responding to international support for increased UN authority over the Internet, an official U.S. policy in favor of Internet freedom is circulating in Washington, D.C.

A new proposal circulating in Washington, D.C. aims to define the official policy of the United States government regarding Internet freedom.

The draft legislation, authored by Rep. Greg Walden (Ore.), chair of the House Communications and Technology subcommittee, was introduced on Feb. 5 during a hearing on global efforts for Internet regulation, according to Hillicon Valley.

"Given the importance of the Internet to the global economy, it is essential that the Internet remain stable, secure and free from government control," the draft legislation reads, stating that U.S. government policy should continue to promote a free Internet not controlled by the government, "and to preserve and advance the successful multistakeholder model that governs the Internet."

The bill comes in response to a recent international vote to increase the authority of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), a United Nations agency, to regulate the Internet.

Countries supporting this expansion of power for the ITU say that the additional authority will help governments enhance cybersecurity and combat the proliferation of spam.

Speaking at the Feb. 5 hearing, FCC member Robert McDowell represented the sentiments of many in the U.S., warning that the "dynamic new wonders of the early 21st century are inches away from being smothered by innovation-crushing old rules designed for a different time."

Practical implications of the Internet freedom legislation, if passed, are unclear.

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Noelle Knell is the executive editor for e.Republic, responsible for setting the overall direction for e.Republic’s editorial platforms, including Government Technology, Governing, Industry Insider, Emergency Management and the Center for Digital Education. She has been with e.Republic since 2011, and has decades of writing, editing and leadership experience. A California native, Noelle has worked in both state and local government, and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, with majors in political science and American history.