tv [untitled] May 31, 2012 11:30am-12:00pm EDT
process, to more stake holders, to nongovernmental stake holders, which i believe that dr. serf has spoken about? do you agree on that? and how can the u.s. government advocate for greater transparency in this process since that to me is is sort of a stumbling block for some of the other countries? >> well, it is certainly true, i think, that there has been criticism -- and i think it's legitimate criticism -- about the ability of the nonmembers of the itu to be aware of the deliberations, be aware of what's taking place in terms of preparation for this conference and more broadly. we are prepared through our -- through the itu council and the good efforts of dick baird, who has been our representative on the council for many, many years, to propose to the council that its report, which is going to be a very important document
in the scheme of things, that its report in preparation for the wicket be generally available. it would be very useful if we could find more ways -- this is a point the united states often makes -- to have more of the itu's documents more widely available to all of the interested stake holders. >> i would think -- and this is a question for both ambassador verveer and commissioner mcdowell -- that there should be more opening of the process for knowledge, increase of knowledge here even in the united states as the importance of this. we in this country tend to take the internet for granted. and, you know, we see what's happened with the arab spring and realize how it's affected other countries. i think that to a great degree we forget that we -- what would happen if let's say the worst happened, the scenario, and that
things would close down,. i'm curious, what would happen if the worst happened here? what would happen here in this country with? would those resolutions immediately become lu laue? what steps can the u.s. take to limit its participation in the treaty? you know, i kind of want to know what would happen. and either of you can answer that, and -- both of you, in fact. >> this is a very important point that you've raised, and i'm glad you have. first, it is conventional, and we assuredly will take a very broad reservation from whatever is agreed at the conference. and virtually every other country will do the same thing. so you will have countries agreeing that they will abide by the provisions of the treaty unless for some reason they won't. and as i say, typically, the reason will be extraordinarily broad. that's one thing.
the second thing that's very important to understand is there's no enforcement mechanism associated with this. these are preliminary, as many other aspects of international law are, so that it is not reasonable to assume that if something really ruinous for some reason was to be adopted as a particular regulation, that you would see countries against every interest in enforcing that regulation, as only the countries would be able to enforce. there's no other way for it to be done. so this conference and all of these actions are extraordinarily important in terms of establishing norms, in terms of establishing expectations, in terms of trying to help with respect to both commercial activities and the free flow of information. but they're very, very different from the law that the congress might, for example, adopt that would be sub to all the enforcements -- >> i'm running out of time, but commissioner mcdowell, do you have any comments?
can you add to this? >> i don't think i could say it any better than he could in the observance of time. ? thank you very much, both of you. >> the other gently day from california, southern california, mary bowmack. >> thank you both for your testimony. you certainly didn't mince words. there's no doubt that you feel strongly. and what i like is that i agree with everything you've said. it's hard to question witnesses when you're just trying to make them agree with you more than they already do, but i will do my best and just try to get out of you a little bit of explanation. i think as doris matsui was just seeing, a bigger estimation for the american people, what's at stake here. i started talking about this well over year ago. people sort of viewed me as having a tinfoil hat on my head and i was creating an issue that wasn't very real. but if p you could talk a little bit about -- we clearly understand the arab spring and what this means and that the internet is the biggest tool for freedom around the world that mankind has ever seen. so taking that aside, instead,
can you talk a little bit about the proposal, how it would impact u.s. business and what it means for the bottom line for business should this occur? either -- to both youf. >> sure. and thank you, congresswoman, for your leadership on this issue. in the early days there were a lot of folks who questioned whether or not this was real. i'm glad you stuck your neck out. thank you for your leadership. >> at a minimum, it creates unsrn ti and drives up costs. and that alone can be damaging. just take an example. so harvard and m.i.t. recently announced they're going to offer courses online for free. the concept of free content on the net could be put at risk if costs are raised. ultimately, consumers pay for those costs one way or another, pay for increased costs due to regulation. so, you know, at a maximum, then you would have some sort of
bifurcated internet, cross border technology, such as cloud computing, which is becoming essential to creating efficiencies and bringing more value to consumers and raising living standards, ultimately. that could be jeopardized as it becomes harder to figure out how do you engineer these technologies across borders when in the past the internet didn't have to worry about that as much. >> thank you. ambassador, do you -- >> i certainly would agree with the commissioner on that, and i think it's -- it's perfectly fair to observe that the free flow of information, including the free flow of commercial information, is something that has added -- as studies have been cited this morning indicate has added measurably to the world's wet. so we're very anxious that there not be anything that would inhibit that. there are, for example, been some suggestions made by some countries that we ought to have a kind of per-click charge, if
you will, that content providers ought to contribute to the cost of transmission companies for concluding traffic. there are a variety of reasons why that seems to us not to be a good idea at all. but you can see what could turn out to be marginal impositions on the internet would, in fact, interfere with the commercial value of it, and we're very anxious to avoid that. >> thank you, ambassador. and would you speak a little bit -- in your testimony you mentioned that there are proposals under consideration at wicket that would allow governments to restrict content and monitor internet users. can you speak a little bit about how the u.s. is working now to prevent countries from already senscensoring the internet? >> well, we're very anxious, as you might imagine, to overcome any suggestions that there ought to be content-related
restrictions. the suggestions of this kind come again as commissioner mcdowell indicated in his testimony, not just or not even especially in the context of wicket but in other forums as well. and they tend to come from countries that have -- i suppose it's easy to say nondemocratic traditions. and as a result, on the one hand, we are dealing with what are most certainly political beliefs, that stability is very important, that there are, in fact, objectionable, either from a political perspective or other cultural perspectives, there is such a thing as material is so objectionable it ought to be excluded. that said, we obviously disagree with that and we particularly disagree with it when we're talking about what we might describe as political speech. but these this set of issues
arises more extensively in, for example, the kind of suggestion that russia, china, uzbekistan and tajikistan had made in the context of the united nations. >> thank you. my time is up. again, i just want to thank you very much for your hard work on this issue and for being here today. i yield back. >> thank you, mary. i want to thank you for your good effort on your resolution that -- >> i look good in those tinfoil hats. >> well, this time it was legitimate and necessary. i'm proud of the work that you have done with henry waxman in making it an issue and making it bipartisan. we're all in agreement on this one. mr. dingle? >> thank you, mr. chairman. i appreciate your courtesy. i'd like to welcome my old friend, ambassador verveer, who's a friend and a resource to this committee.
he was bureau chief of the three bureaus of the fcc back in the '70s and served the department of justice before that. mr. ambassador, welcome. i look forward to our exchange. and of course, commissioner mcdowell, we appreciate your service and thank you for being here this morning. your wise counsel has been helpful to me on many occasions. for both witnesses, this is a yes-or-no answer. is it true that some members of the itu may propose revisions in the itrs that set out descriptive international regulations for issues such as internet privacy and cybersecurity? yes or no. >> the answer is yes. >> yes. >> to both witnesses, do you believe that it's wise for the united states to aseed to international standards on internet matters not settled definitively? that is, privacy and cybersecurity by the congress.
yes or no. >> it's unwise for us to get too far in front of the overall consensus. >> you find that to be a bit rushing thins. is that right? >> i now can't recall if this should be a yes or a no, but it would be a bad idea. >> i don't like to do that, but we have a lot of ground to cover. commissioner. >> unwise. >> now, again to both of our witnesses, i understand that some of the countries like russia and china believe that, quote, policy authority for internet-related public issues is the sovereign rights of states and not multistakeholders. is that correct? yes or no. >> yes, that's correct. >> commissioner? >> that's their position? is that the question? >> yes. is that their -- >> as i understand their position, yes. >> do you agree with that position? >> no, we don't.
>> no. >> ambassador? now, in your collective opinion, is it wise to maintain international multistakeholder regulatory process that more closely resembles the administrative procedure act model that we use in the united states as opposed to what china and russia propose? yes or no. >> yes. >> commissioner? >> if i understand the question correctly, i would not want a legal paradigm put in place of a multistakeholder model. there's some words in there which i'm not sure i understand completely. i want to make that point clear. >> thank you, gentlemen. looks like we're in agreement, then, on these matters. now, since you're both here, i'd like to ask you about an unrelated matter. i know you're both aware that the president has signed legislation that permits the fcc to conduct an incentive option in which television broadcasters
can elect to return their licenses in return for a portion of the auction revenues. that legislation includes the amendment offered by mr. bill gray and i, directing the fcc to coordinate with canadian and mexican authorities so that consumers and particularly those in border regions won't lose access to television signals when the incentive auction is over. now, mr. ambassador, would you please bring the subcommittee up to speed on where things stand with canada and mexico with respect to this very important matter, particularly so to my constituents? particularly, is there no additional frequencies available for displaced stations in my hometown of detroit if the television band is repatched? i have to ask you to be brief on
this and perhaps maybe you'd want to submit some additional comments to the record. mr. ambassador. >> well, there are -- mr. dipg l, there are treaty obligations that we have with canada that are designed to protect the broadcasters on both sides of the border. this is a problem not just in the area of detroit but also in new york state. in addition -- >> also in washington and montana and along the borders of minnesota and oregon and other places, too. >> and likewise on the mexican border, this is an area -- these are things that have to be worked out and have to be worked out by agreement between the two countries. but in addition, as you mentioned, there is a legislative mandate the that no one be disadvantaged if they choose to continue to broadcast. so this is going to be a complicated engineering matter. it may or may not be something that will permit any particular
changes in the status along the border regions, but both the treaty and the statute obligations obviously will be observed. >> now, commissioner mcdowell, you are working on this with the commissioner i know. can you assure me that the commission's commitment to full transparency on this matter? yes or no. >> yes for my office. can't speak for the chairman or the other d -- >> are you comfortable that you would engage in full transparency. i'm a little less comfortable about some of the other folks down at the commission. i recognize, commissioner, to speak for yourself. are you comfortable that everybody else at the commission shares your good will on this matter? >> i certainly hope so, sir. >> i do, too. i'm not sure -- i'm a little bit like the fella that was walking down the street and they asked him, are you an optimist or a pessimist, and he said i'm an optimist, and they said, well, why are you frowning, and he said because i'm not sure my
optimism is justified. thank you, commissioner. >> nice one. thank you, mr. dingle. we recognize the gentlelady from tennessee for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and, again, i thank you all for being here. mr. ambassador, couple of questions for you. when was the last time that the state department published a notice of an official meeting to prepare for the wicket 12? >> you know, i'm not sure when we did. we understand that we have an obligation to publish notices in connection with what we call our itac meeting. >> let me help you out with that a little bit, because the last notice that i could find was january 11th. that was the last public notice. but from what i've been able to find out is that the state
department is holding regular meetings of interested stake holders on a regular basis. and you've done this all year long to prepare for the conference. isn't that correct? >> that is correct. >> okay. and is your staff holding regular conference calls and managing a listserv for stake holders to circulate position papers and ideas to inform the u.s. delegation in advance of the wicket 12 preparatory meetings? >> yes. that's also correct. >> that's correct. okay. so then first of all, how do you get on the listserv soeshgs that you're aware of what's going on, and secondly, how can my constituent constituents that are not just the largest and the wealthiest companies on the internet or the
intellectual elite participate in the process if there is no way for them to know how to participate in that process or when the meetings are going to take place or how to get involved? how do we advise them on this? >> well, first, you're obviously raising a very legitimate and very important question. the notices that were made, and my understanding, my recollection of the advice we got from the lawyers at the state department was that we could notice -- we could provide a kind of general notice as a legal matter for these -- for these regular meetings. it is very easy to get on the listserv, but you have to know who to contact. and if that's something obscured from the standpoint of the public record, we'll correct that. but anyone who wishes to be on the list certainly can -- >> well, i would like to make certain that we take care of this, because this was going to be the most transparent administration in history.
and here we get to an issue that is very important to a lot of my constituents, and they feel blocked out of this process. commissioner mcdowell, i appreciate that you've been an outspoken critic of wicket 12 and appreciate your efforts. let me ask you this. you've been to nashville. we have done a town hall there in nashville. you know that i've got a lot of constituents that want to participate in this process. and you know that they're very concerned about what international control of the internet would do to them and do to their livelihoods. so, you know, how do we go about this if the fcc doesn't have an open docket for comment? don't you think that that would be a good idea to have an open docket, that these individuals, these small business operators
would be invited into for comment? and, you know, i know that i ow point there was one, but there doesn't seem to be now. i think early 2010 there was a -- there was an open docket. so tell me how we go about fixing this. >> the best vehicle for this, a notice of inquiry, that the fcc would open up on what the fcc should be doing in support of the state department's taking the lead on wict 12. >> okay. that sounds good. let me ask you this -- you know, one of the things, as i looked at this issue with the docket, one of the things that concerns me is that the fcc still does have an open proceeding to reclassify the internet services of title 2. telecom service. and so tell me this -- how is that open proceeding
different from the proposals in front of the itu and shouldn't we close that docket immediately? >> yes, we should. i've been very public about that for many years as well as the original proceeding. i think it sends the wrong signal internationally, and i think should be closed as soon as possible. >> okay. thank you for that. my timesome expired and i thank you for the time and the questions. >> thank you. gentle lady from virginia. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and i, too, want to welcome both the commissioner and the ambassador and thank you for your testimonies, and it's really great to have such bipartisan support on this important issue and i want to thank the chairman and ranking member for having this hearing as we approach the wcit. i'm not sure that all the questions that have needed to be asked have not been asked but as my colleague usually says, not
everyone has asked them, but some have suggested that there's need for greater transparency and accountability in the itu process. do you agree? and can, if you do think that there's a need for greater transparency, can it be accomplished without regulation that hampers the free and open access to the internet? >> well, if i understood your question correctly the desirable of greater transparency generally in the itu process, the answer, i think from our point of view is, yes, that would be desirable, and we have recommended various measures along those lines over the years, and have seen some of them come to fruition, some not. there are steps that question and we do take here in the u.s. to try to aid non-itu members to understand what's going on there in terms of making materials available that are available to us as member of the itu, and as i mentioned earlier, we're
proposing a specific instance of wict that the council report, which will be the critical document or one of the most critical documents going forward, should be made public once it is, in fact, issued following council working group session in the next several weeks. >> commissioner, did you have anything to add, or -- >> nothing furtherer to add other than to say i've heard time and time again from civil society think tank, efficacy groups and such they're very concerned about the opaque nature of the itu. the itu generates revenue from having civil society group, non-voting member states, join the itu for i think about $35,000, the equivalent thereof, a way of generating money for the itu and then can you get certain documents. i've found it difficult actually even nor my office to get some itu documents.
you kind of have to know somebody, and i'm part of the u.s. government, the last time i checked. so i do think this is something itu needs to work on and i have every faith in ambassador verveer and the incoming ambassador to wict to address that issue. >> i guess this is a follow-up and ton what you just said. there are also some recommendations i think in some of the testimony from the second panel that the itu should have some nongovernmental voting members. is that something that you would agree should happen? fanned not, there musting inaboy for them 0 to have some significant way of participating in the discussion? >> well, the itu follows the general u.n. model of having nation states as the voting members. the greatest generation worked
out for us, and there are -- there are opportunities to try to find greater roles for non-nation state participants. there are other forms of membership in the itu that are non-voting that permit a good deal of participation, but it is -- it is, in fact, ib think, a legitimate objective to find better ways to make the itus work and this is also true of the other u.n. organizations more available, more accessible and more participatory in terms of non-nation states who may be involved. may be interested. >> and, commissioner, you talked about the light touch, some, a proposal, and -- but is it football have any kind of a light touch regulatory regime without threatens internet freedom? i mean,s that not possible? >> no.
>> it's just another way of slipping -- getting into a slippery slope. isn't that -- >> it's a sales pitch for a much bigger problem. there's no way to have both. >> thank you. i yield back the balance. >> gentle lady yields back ball, 6 her time. the chair recognizes the gentleman from california, mr. bilbray for five. >> gentlemen, just a general question. i'm sure somebody else has already asked it but as we say, everything's been said, just not everybody said it. what can congress do to help with negotiations with the other countries to ensure a strong position that the internet remain free and open without the harmful international regulations stifling it? what can we do in congress to help with the effort? >> well, i think -- >> or -- and what must we do? >> i think the resolution that was adopted, or promulgated in
the last day or two is one very important possibility, and it's one that where the more adherence it has here, the better. the clearer it becomes that the united states is completely unified on this particular set of issues. secondly i think this hearing itself is something that's very valuable, because it provides a very plain demonstration that we in the united states are unified across our political lines, and that, i think, is an important message for the world amend i assure you the world does pay very close attention to what we do in these areas. we will hope to have an opportunity towards the end of this month to introduce our new head of delegation to members and staff who are interested in speaking with them. we will, at that time ishgts thi, i think, to also provide sort of a
sense of what we think are the needs that we have in terms of going forward, preparing for the conference and participating in the conference. >> i would agree with everything the ambassador said. i think we need to -- congress could help by helping clarify the position that not even the smallest change should be allowed, but also following up on the wict and having another sort of checkup hearing maybe after the first of the year, because there will be many more similar circumstances coming forward in the years to come. >> you know, i personally spent a lot of time in latin america working on certain problems they have down there, and one of the great opportunities we see not just in latin america but around the world, in third world countries, is being able to use the internet to help bridge the gap between those in the rural area, can't go to secondary school, get the education. a lot of the things that we take for granted, third world rural
people don't have access to. it's absolutely essential that the internet is available and the broadband's available to bridge that education gap in third world countries. the question is, some 6 these countries are looking at the international telecommunication union as part of the solution on that. how should we respond to their legitimate concerns and how do we coordinate them, make sure that that moves forward? because this probably does more to help third world country in progress than a lot of other stuff we spent trillions of dollars on. i yield to -- >> the itu has a development center. we participate in the it quite extensively and think it is very available in collecting and disseminating best practices, capacity building, things of that nature. it also has regional connect, in particular region, in the connect america's region conference, will occur in