Leaked: The GOP's Proposed New Position On Internet Freedom

Rep. Darrell Issa asks the GOP to officially support Internet freedom.

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House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., leads a hearing on Capitol Hill.

The Republican party may be ready to take a new position on Internet freedom, according to a document obtained by Whispers.

California Rep. Darrell Issa's proposal calls for the Republican party to take a stance on the Internet that limits the role of government and allows Americans to "participate where and how they choose on the Internet."

According to sources familiar with the Republican party platform process, the GOP has been increasingly discussing Internet freedom, and could be ready to officially roll out its stance later this month at the Republican convention.

[Photos: Online SOPA Protests]

Kirsten Kukowski, a spokesperson for the Republican National Committee, writes in an E-mail that Issa's is "one submission of many on the subject." 

But don't expect another showdown between Issa, who favors a lighthanded approach to Internet legislation and Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, who introduced the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a bill that spurred widespread Internet blackouts and protests earlier this year.

Kim Smith, Lamar Smith's press secretary, tells Whispers that the Congressman "did not submit any language pertaining to the Internet for the GOP platform."

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Sources familiar with ongoing discussions say they are "hopeful" that Issa's proposal will make it into the final party platform, and that "conversations that have occurred [on Internet freedom] have been well received" and that the Republicans hope "not to over-regulate the Internet."

In an intro to the document, Issa writes that Republicans "cultivate a national culture of entrepreneurship, Internet freedom and individual liberty."

Because their convention is first, Republicans will have a chance to become the first party to officially support Internet freedom, but Democratic sources say their party is also likely to include strong language advocating for less Internet regulation.

Here's Issa's proposed draft language:

"American innovation has continued to grow and thrive based on the expansion of Internet and related technologies. American leadership on the Internet has generated millions of jobs in the United States, with over 300,000 alone being generated in social media over the last four years. In order to maintain American leadership into the future it is vital that all Americans have access to an open and unobstructed Internet. "We believe that all Americans have a right to participate where and how they choose on the Internet. They have a right to create, grow, collaborate and benefit from what they create on the Internet. They also have a right to be secure in their intellectual property on the Internet.

"As the Internet continues to become more integrated into virtually every aspect of our lives we must ensure that it remains free of unnecessary government influence and manipulation. Today, online communities and marketplaces are vibrant platforms that foster freedom of speech, freedom of association and provide new economic opportunities to individuals. Conversely government by its very nature seeks to impose, limit and regulate the actions of individuals. While we should ensure that mechanisms are in place to protect the most vulnerable amongst us, we will ensure that this is not done at the expense of maintaining a vibrant and growing Internet."

Jason Koebler is a science and technology reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow him on Twitter or reach him at jkoebler@usnews.com

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