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Congress Wants U.S. To Retain Grip On Internet

A trio of lawmakers in the House of Representatives has joined a Senate colleague in calling for the United States to retain oversight control of the Internet, as a coming showdown looms with countries wanting more say in how the Web is run.
"No single government should have a pre-eminent role in relation to international governance," read the Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG) report.

With the EU recently withdrawing its support for U.S. management of the Internet, the issue is expected to come to a head next month in Tunisia, when the World Summit on the Information Society convenes Nov. 16-18.

The Bush administration answered the calls for handing over the keys with a definitive "no" in June, and President Bush reiterated the arguments as recently as last week with European Commission President Jos Barroso in a face-to-face meeting in Washington, D.C.

"The United States will maintain its historic role in authorizing changes or modifications to the authoritative root zone file," said Assistant Secretary of Commerce Michael Gallagher in remarks to the Wireless Communications Association in June.

Some in Congress have been adamant about keeping the Net under U.S. control. "There is no rational justification for politicizing Internet governance within a U.N. framework," said Coleman in a statement. "Nor is there a rational basis for the anti-U.S. resentment driving the proposal. At the World Summit next month, the Internet is likely to face a grave threat. We risk the freedom and enterprise fostered by this informational marvel. This is not a risk I am prepared to take."

Coleman is, in fact, a frequent critic of the U.N., and has co-sponsored a bill with Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) that would require the U.S. to push for across-the-board reforms at the international organization.

"The Internet has flourished under U.S. supervision and oversight, and has evolved and grown under market-based principles and private sector leadership," added Coleman. "It is irresponsible to expand the U.N.'s portfolio before it undertakes sweeping, overdue reform. If the U.N. was unable to properly administer the Oil-for-Food Program, I am afraid what the Internet would look like under U.N. control.”

Those in the House have added their two cents as well. "The more governments that become involved in this process, the more red tape and overly burdensome regulations that huge bureaucratic agencies bring will increase," Virginia Republican Goodlatte said.