If all goes according to Obama’s plan, American oversight of an uncensored internet will come to an end on September 30, when stewardship will be forfeited, leaving the world’s information system wide open for international governments to take control.
However, L. Gordon Crovitz of the Wall Street Journal reports that congress does have the power to block the handover, if they will. Crovitz said Senator Ted Cruz told him last week there is a plan among congressional leaders to block Obama’s action through a rider to the federal budget. Cruz reportedly stated, “The basic proposition of keeping the internet free has united Republicans across the spectrum and should also unite Democrats with Republicans.”
Obama is planning to release full control to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), citing they can regulate it independently. However, once the U.S. relinquishes oversight protection of ICANN, several nations are already committed to ending ICANN’s status as a U.S. legal entity, bringing it all under control and jurisdiction of the United Nations.
Crovitz said leaders of the four committees that oversee the internet – Senator John Thune, Rep Fred Upton, Senator Chuck Grassley and Rep. Bob Goodlatte – sent a letter last week to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, saying, “This irreversible decision could result in a less transparent and accountable internet governance regime or provide an opportunity for an enhanced role for authoritarian nation-states.”
According to the U.S. Constitution, Congress must approve the sale of government property, says Crovitz. Yet Obama has completely ignored the mandate to see congressional approval, even though the ICANN contract is government property worth billions of dollars.
Crovitz puts the problem in plain English:
Each of these objections is enough to retain U.S. oversight, but the broader point is that the internet ain’t broke and doesn’t need fixing. Icann’s stakeholders—developers, engineers, network operators and entrepreneurs—are free to operate an open internet because U.S. protection prevents Moscow, Beijing, Tehran and other authoritarian regimes from meddling. The Obama administration may not be comfortable with American exceptionalism, but the internet fosters free speech and innovation because it was built in the image of the U.S.
Ironically, Bill Clinton was one of the first people to protest Obama’s internet giveaway when it was first announced in 2014. Clinton said, “A lot of people who have been trying to take this authority away from the U.S. want to do it for the sole purpose of cracking down on Internet freedom and limiting it and having governments protect their backsides instead of empower their people.”
George Soros’ Open Society Foundation has been calling for international control of the internet. In a 34-page leaked document titled “2014 Proposed Strategy”, Soros argues that international regulation of the internet is necessary to protect freedom of expression, and says in the document, “We seek to ensure that from among the norms emerging in different parts of the world, those most supportive of open society gain sway.”
Ted Cruz said he’s “cautiously optimistic” that legislators can ensure that U.S. protection continues. Time is now of the essence – unless they take action, it will be gone in just over two weeks.