Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, delivered the following opening statement at a joint subcommittee hearing entitled, “Fighting for Internet Freedom: Dubai and Beyond.”

The hearing is being convened by the Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), the Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX), and the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Communications and Technology Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR).

Remarks prepared for delivery by Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman
House Committee on Foreign Affairs

Joint Subcommittee Hearing:  “Fighting for Internet Freedom: Dubai and Beyond
February 5, 2013

(As Prepared for Delivery)

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Let me begin by commending the Chairmen of the three subcommittees holding for this rare, timely, and important joint hearing. 

Their initiative demonstrates the broad and bipartisan commitment to ensuring that Congress remains a leader in combating this new threat.

We are accustomed to threats from brutal dictatorships coming head on.  But danger can also come from obscure corners. 

The latest is the push by foreign governments to use the International Telecommunication Union to regulate the Internet, which had its first big success at last December’s ITU conference.

The fact that the strong objections of the U.S. and its allies were simply pushed aside by a majority vote that consisted largely of developing countries led by China and Russia, is a loud and clear warning of what lies ahead.

Some might wonder why regulation by the ITU should be regarded as a threat?

After all, this U.N. agency has been around for decades, working to set technical standards that allow the global telecommunications system to function.

But the problem is three-fold:

First, the ITU has never had any role in regulating the Internet and has no business doing so now.

Second, the countries behind this proposal want to use the ITU to help them control the Internet in their countries.

Third, and most important, the creativity and innovation of the Internet can flourish only in an environment free from intrusive government regulation.

As bad as it was, the step taken at the ITU conference in December was only the first in a planned series.

We know that the original proposal was even worse, so we must expect that the same countries will push for an even larger agenda.

The camel’s nose is under the tent, and it smells victory.

So we have our work cut. 

This struggle will be a permanent one.  Those seeking to control the Internet will never stop.  It is too valuable.

Fortunately, we have strength in numbers, as our panel demonstrates.

Congress has a key role to play, such as last year’s resolution that passed the House and Senate unanimously, as well as the proposed legislation that will be discussed today.

With today’s hearing, we shine a spotlight on those who seek to do their work behind the scenes and in the shadows.

The truth of the old saying that “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance” is being demonstrated once again.

If we are to prevail, we must always remember that we are engaged in a battle with very high stakes – the free flow of information and commerce – the very bedrock of our society.

Thank you.