The U.S. House on Tuesday unanimously approved bipartisan legislation (H.R. 1580) written by Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) that affirms the policy of the United States to promote a global Internet free from government control.
“The Internet is possibly the most important technological advancement since the printing press," Walden said on the House floor. "Governments’ hands-off approach has enabled the Internet’s rapid growth and made it a powerful engine of social and economic freedom."
"This bipartisan bill is designed to combat recent efforts by some in the international community to regulate the Internet, which could jeopardize not only its vibrancy, but also the benefits it brings to the world,” Walden added.
Last Congress, a similar measure unanimously passed the House and Senate. In light of continued international efforts to regulate the Internet, members voted Tuesday to make it official U.S policy, rather than merely a sense of the Congress.
Walden is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, and this legislation has been a priority for the subcommittee this year. Earlier in the year, the subcommittee held a joint hearing with the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on the subject.
“Just as international opponents of Internet freedom are redoubling their efforts, so must we," the congressman said. "That is why the hearing we held focused on draft legislation elevating the language of last year’s resolution from a sense of Congress aimed at particular treaty negotiations to a generalized statement of U.S. law.”
Last month, the legislation was approved unanimously by the House Energy and Commerce Committee after Walden made changes to accommodate concerns from Democratic members of the committee. After passing the House, it now goes to the Senate to be considered.
On April 10, Rep. Walden penned an op-ed in The Bulletin arguing that Congress must “walk the walk” on internet freedom.
Also on Tuesday, Walden (R-Ore.) appeared on Fox Business Channel’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight” to talk about the controversy surrounding the Justice Department’s investigation of the Associated Press, the IRS, internet freedom, and soaring health insurance premiums due to the new health care law.
Walden on the Associated Press and the IRS
“I’ve been around for a little while but I have not seen anything quite like this. The magnitude of these investigations by the DOJ into reporters’ phone lines. I just think it’s chilling and unprecedented to the extent to which they’ve done this sweep. If they did it to AP, have they done it to others we don't know about yet?
“And then the IRS, for goodness sakes. You look at what they were alleged to have done and now admitted to have done, singling out groups because of their political viewpoint may not jive with who knows what. The criteria are wrong and it is outrageous and it occurred on this administration’s watch and may have been going on for a while. Who knows what’s behind that? This is really, really troubling to me, somebody with a journalism degree and believes in freedom of press and transparency of government is really, really bad stuff.”
Walden on internet freedom
“That was my legislation which we worked through the subcommittee to make sure a clear statutory scheme is in place to tell the world we don't want government messing around with the management of the internet. There was a conference in Dubai at the end of the year where 89 nations held a different view, headed up by countries like China and Iran and Russia. They want to get their governments into the Internet, to match your IP address with your home address, and then monitor your e-mails so if you speak out against the government they know where you live. This is the behavior we do not condone or we do not want. We believe in the First Amendment and we believe in the multistakeholder management process for the internet. And that passed unanimously tonight.”
Walden on soaring health insurance premiums
“Nancy Pelosi said you have to pass it so we know what is in it. And now we find out not only double but in some categories—for individual policyholders these are people who on their own are buying their own insurance because they don’t get it anywhere else, you can see based on age adjustments the rate increase of 413%. That’s 4-1-3. This is outrageous. You see the others going up 73%, 90% all across America with higher rates and less access. And the other thing that is insidious is people who were working over 30 hours a week are having their hours scaled-back so their employers don't have to provide health insurance.”