March 1, 2007 - CHAIRMAN MARKEY HOLDS FIRST HEARING IN SERIES ON THE DIGITAL FUTURE OF THE WORLD WIDE WEB

WASHINGTON, D.C.  -- Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, convened the first hearing in a series of discussions on the digital future of the United States. His prepared remarks follow below.

Good Morning.  I am pleased to convene this first hearing of what I intend to be a series of hearings on the “Digital Future of the United States.”  This series of oversight hearings focus on the different segments of the telecommunications marketplace and public policy.  As we proceed, we will have hearings on voice, video, and data markets, competition, innovation, localism, diversity, and universal service.  My goal is that this series of educational hearings brings to the Subcommittee the information and insight we will need to make sound policy judgments in the months ahead.

This morning’s hearing focuses upon the future of the World Wide Web.  The World Wide Web has become indispensable to companies large and small, and regardless of whether their commercial aspirations are locally-oriented or of global proportions.  It has become a resource that the government depends upon and that nurtures communities both real and virtual around the planet.  The Web has grown into a communications medium unto itself, where citizens can communicate and entrepreneurs can innovate.  

The Web is evolving from its initial “publishing model” existence, into a more interactive, sophisticated medium, and observers have begun to talk about “Web 2.0” and “Web 3.0” applications and services.  The Web is a precious commodity and today we have a chance not only to better understand its current nature but to glimpse into its future.

Because of its importance to our national economic security, to global communications, free speech, and to myriad applications addressing health care, education, and cultural and civic themes, I believe it is vital for us to understand what we can do as policymakers to safeguard the Web’s special role and to foster its further growth and innovation.  

In 1999, TIME magazine published a list of the 100 Greatest Minds of the 20th Century.  In the category of most influential scientists and thinkers, the list includes Einstein, the Wright Brothers, Dr. Jonas Salk, Sigmund Freud, Rachel Carson, Enrico Fermi, Alexander Fleming, and others.  Included in this rarified list is also our guest witness this morning, Sir Timothy Berners-Lee.  

I want to thank my good friend, Ranking Member Fred Upton (R-MI) for agreeing to have one, special witness at this morning’s hearing and look forward to working together in the months ahead on matters before this Subcommittee.