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Free Expression

Internet Loses Strong Congressional Advocate With Defeat of Rep. Rick Boucher

On Tuesday the Internet lost a true congressional champion when Rick Boucher (D-Va) was defeated in his reelection bid.  He will be sorely missed.

The Internet today is open, innovative, and free in large measure because of Rick Boucher’s leadership and vision.  While the early Internet technology had the potential to be an open platform of citizen empowerment and commerce on a global scale, Rick Boucher understood from the outset that the technology also requires a policy architecture to unleash and achieve that potential.

From this perspective, Rick Boucher must be recognized as one of the principal  "founders" of the Internet.  After technology wizards invented the protocols, Rick Boucher helped develop the policy framework that moved the Internet from a government agency (DARPA) into the private sector.  His 1991 legislation opening the Internet to commercial traffic is broadly viewed as the take-off point for today’s network of networks that spans the globe and serves billions of users.

More than a decade ago, Rick Boucher, along with other far-sighted legislators from both sides of the aisle, founded the Congressional Internet Caucus.  The Caucus has been instrumental in educating policy makers about how the Internet works and fostering an on-going bipartisan policy dialogue to find workable policy solutions.

Over the span of his 14 terms in Congress, Rick Boucher has tackled every critical policy issue facing the Internet. Ascending to the Chair of the House Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet two years ago, he has worked tirelessly to make broadband available to all and to enact consumer privacy legislation.      

Rick Boucher has been the Internet’s “happy warrior:” His energy boundless; his door always open; and his agile mind always at work. His love of policy and politics is infectious. His tireless search for workable solutions and bipartisan consensus has served the Internet well and made him one of a handful of legislators who have truly made a difference in framing sound Internet Policy. He has been a friend of the Internet and will always be a friend of CDT.

Today, the Internet faces many tough challenges. We need bipartisan solutions and we need more like Rick Boucher in Congress.