American officials are moving to head off potential proposals they say could give the United Nations a bigger role in regulating the Internet.
Leaders of the House Energy on Commerce Committee on Wednesday introduced a resolution aimed at preserving the "multi-stakeholder" model of Internet governance.
A range of American government officials, companies, and non-profit organizations fear that negotiations at a global telecommunications conference in December could yield rules that would emphasize government power, instead of the current system that includes a wide range of non-governmental organizations.
"International regulatory intrusion into the Internet would have disastrous results not just for the United States, but for people around the world," House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., said in a statement.
On Thursday the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology plans to hear testimony from Ambassador Philip Verveer, who represents the U.S. at the U.N. agency that oversees telecom policy, and Federal Communications Commissioner Robert McDowell.
"The U.S. and like-minded proponents of Internet freedom and prosperity across the globe should resist efforts to expand the powers of intergovernmental bodies over the Internet even in the smallest of ways," McDowell says in testimony prepared for the hearing.
He notes that countries including China, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia are pushing to use the upcoming negotiations over international telecom rules to expand the U.N.'s authority. "The threats are real and not imagined," McDowell wrote.
Speaking at a Free State Foundation event on Wednesday Richard Beaird, State Department senior coordinator for international communications and information policy, reiterated the White House's position that the U.N. role in the Internet should be limited.
"The U.N. is not the place for the day-to-day technical operations of the Internet," he said.