Stop The U.S. Giveaway Of Control Of The Internet

Save The Internet While You Still Can

The U.S. Government has long protected the core of the Internet from authoritarian regimes who view the Internet as a way to increase their influence and suppress online freedom of speech. The Obama administration has announced its intent to end U.S. Government oversight of the core operating functions of the Internet on September 30,2016.

America invented the Internet and it has proven to be an amazing oasis of freedom.  It has been a haven of free speech and free enterprise, with each of us able to speak our views online, and provided a platform for millions of new businesses able to be opened online without pre-approval.  But all of that could change.

From the very first days of the internet, the American government has maintained domain names and ensured equal access to everyone with no censorship. Obama wants to give that power away to the international body Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) which would empower countries like Russia and China and Iran. This internet giveaway posses a great threat to our nations freedom, national security.  Russia, China, and Iran don’t have a First Amendment.  They don’t protect free speech and they actively sensor the internet. ICANN could do the same thing, putting foreign countries in charge of what you can say online. Prohibiting speech that they disagree with. Foreign governments are already planning to take ICANN and move it oversees so it escapes U.S. law and turns into a mini United Nations. Unfortunately, Congress hasn’t been willing to affirmatively act to prevent this giveaway before the transfer date on September 30th.

The Obama administrations plan for ICANN will: (1) Increase the influence of over 160 foreign governments over the Internet; (2) Diminish the role of the United States Government; (3) Insert into ICANN’s bylaws an undefined commitment to respect “internationally recognized human rights” which will not only expand ICANN’s historical core mission but could create a gateway to content regulation; and (4) Embolden ICANN’s leadership which has a poor track record of acting in an unaccountable manner and a proven unwillingness to respond to specific questions posed by members of the United States Senate.

As The Washington Post has rightfully highlighted, “China’s scary lesson to the world: Censoring the Internet works.” The United States cannot allow authoritarian regimes to increase their influence over the core operating functions of the Internet. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what will happen if Congress fails to act by September 30, 2016.

This is the type of transfer that will happen quietly, it will largely go unnoticed and nothing will change in the short term.  Your precious Facebook will look the same on October 1st.  But over time, either through the slow creep of authoritarian and progressive rule, or more quickly in response to a cyber attack or other event, your freedom to post, and your freedom to seek out content inline with your views and lifestyle will be infringed.  The rest of the world does not enjoy First Amendment protections.  We take it for granted, but there is no free speech in most of the world.  The U.S. government should be using its influence to foster the growth of freedom of speech, not make it easier for tyrants, dictators, and Islamists to silence their opposition.  Stop this transfer and protect US sovereignty, keep the internet free, keep it free of taxes, keep it free from regulation, and free of censorship.   America built the internet and we shouldn’t be giving it away to our enemies.

  • “It would be insane to give away America’s registry control of the Internet to some vaguely defined global entity. The usual suspects are trying to make the world safe for cocktail parties at Davos, rather than taking seriously threats from cyber foes and antifree speech governments that are cheering this move by the Obama administration.” -Christian Whiton Former U.S. State Department Official
  • “The United States should not allow other governments to use the [Snowden] leaks as a pretext to gain control of Internet governance.” – The Washington Post Editorial Board
  • “It’s rarely a good idea to put the federal government in charge of anything, but this is a rare case in which the feds have a track record as responsible stewards — for a reason… The United States owes nothing to “international stakeholders” who are determined to make the Internet look more like the United Nations.” – The Washington Times Editorial Board
  • “Lawmakers should explicitly force the Department of Commerce to retain its current role, over a presidential veto if need be….Which embattled senator wants to go on record as voting against the United States’ retaining control of the web?” – National Review Editorial Board
  • “Every American should worry about Obama giving up control of the internet to an undefined group. This is very, very dangerous.” – The Honorable Newt Gingrich Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
  • “[T]he United States must retain a strong leadership position in Internet governance… [W]e should maintain oversight of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which manages the Internet’s domain name system.” – The Honorable Jeb Bush Former Governor of Florida
  • “The Obama administration has played into the hands of authoritarian regimes. In 2011,Vladimir Putin—who, as Russia took over Crimea in recent days, shut down many online critics and independent media—set a goal of “international control over the Internet.” – L. Gordon Crovitz Former publisher of The Wall Street Journal
  • “The Commerce Department has assured us that it will not accept a “government-led or intergovernmental organization solution” as a replacement for the U.S. role. But just ruling out the possibility that foreign governments will control the new steward isn’t good enough. Our red line should be any change to the Internet’s governance structure that would provide repressive foreign governments with any more influence at all over the Internet.” – FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai
  • “U.S. oversight has maintained an open and free Internet and there is no reason to doubt that that would continue if the current contract is extended to ensure that the new, substantially different ICANN will work as envisioned. Cruz’s legislation would provide an important Congressional check on the system to ensure that any transition is in the best interest of the U.S. and Internet freedom more broadly.”- Heritage Action
  • “The power of the Internet should be free, open, and available for all Americans and all the people of the world.  It should not be taxed, over-regulated, policed and/or spied on by Washington bureaucrats or bureaucrats overseas. The Cruz-Duffy legislation raises important questions as to how we best protect the Internet which has delivered great progress, promises more and threatens powerful interests–both political and economic.”- Grover Norquist, President, Americans for Tax Reform
  • “The Internet is far too important to rush this transition. Unfortunately, the Administration has viewed this transition as a cheap way to recover the global political credibility it lost because of the Snowden revelations and its own stubborn resistance to real surveillance reforms. They simply haven’t been willing to negotiate to protect ICANN’s multi-stakeholder model. Congress has already told NTIA to cease further work, and been ignored. It’s time to mandate Congressional approval of the transition. This would not only ensure more meaningful transparency and accountability mechanisms, it could also address two potentially catastrophic legal issues: First, if a U.S. court finds that the IANA function constituted government property, it could unwind the deal. Second, without a contractual link to the U.S. government, ICANN may be vulnerable to antitrust suits. If that happened, it would push the organization right into the hands of the ITU to regain antitrust immunity — and the Internet would fall under the sway of foreign governments.”- Berin Szóka, President, TechFreedom
  • “Regimes around the world are dangerously intent on squashing Internet freedom. We must be very careful not to allow them to extend their influence over the very core of the Internet. The Protecting Internet Freedom Act will ensure that the representatives of the American people in Congress are convinced of the airtight merits of any proposed transition plan before it advances. There is only one shot to get such a move right.” - Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, President & CEO, National Religious Broadcasters
  • “In the wake of the announcement that ICANN’s multi-stakeholder architect Fade Chehade will be a senior advisor to the Chinese government which seeks to dismantle the ICANN governance system, it would be dangerous and foolhardy to proceed with the Internet transition until the full impact of Chehade’s changing sides has been taken into account.”- Rick Manning, President, Americans for Limited Government
  • “Senator Cruz’s Protecting Internet Freedom Act is urgently needed to prevent the risk of a botched ICANN transition giving repressive foreign governments influence over the Internet’s domain name system.” – Phil Kerpen, President, American Commitment
  • “Proponents of the Internet give away tout a new “multi-stakeholder” model and use soothing terms like “bottom-up” and “consensus” that suggest everyone will work together for the greater good. But what they haven’t demonstrated is how an ICANN independent of the United States and our Constitution will remain independent of the Chinese, Russians, North Koreans, Iranians and others around the globe who are unfriendly to democratic values and have used violence to silence their political opposition. As long as the Internet is accountable to the American public through its government and bound by the U.S. Constitution, the Internet will continue to be a modern miracle of freedom.  We need every Representative and Senator in Congress to stand up for the American public and for free speech and guaranty that the Internet does not slowly become just one more technology controlled by despots.”- George Landrith, President, Frontiers of Freedom
  • “As it currently stands, the proposed IANA Stewardship Transition fails adequately to resolve several crucial issues necessary to ensure ICANN’s continued legitimacy. Despite all the seeming urgency to complete the transition, the work is far from finished — and that’s a problem. It’s one thing to leave some of the finer details to be worked out post-transition, but several fundamental governance issues remain outstanding, including ICANN’s ability to thwart threats of foreign government intrusion, its willingness and ability to ensure a basic level of contractual compliance and respect for property rights among registrars and registries, and its avoidance of antitrust liability risk. In short, it remains clear that ICANN has failed to meet its basic commitments for this transition. By mandating that Congress assess and approve the transition plan, the proposed bill will help to ensure that ICANN remains effective and accountable as it begins its existence as an independent entity.”- Kristian Stout, Associate Director for Innovation Policy, International Center for Law and Economics
  • “Many among the global community do not respect the values which have allowed the Internet to prosper. Congress must ensure that authority over Internet governance is not granted to those who would undermine such an essential tool for expression and innovation.” - Andrew F. Quinlan, President, Center for Freedom and Prosperity
  • “The Obama Administration assures us that the surrender wouldn’t empower tyrannical foreign governments like Iran, North Korea or Cuba, but that’s precisely the result its scheme would have.  Among other things, foreign governments would obtain power to determine ICANN’s composition, and individual citizens and groups would possess no legal standing to protest.  Remember, this is the same Obama Administration that promised, ‘If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.’ –Timothy H. Lee, Senior Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs, Center for Individual Freedom
  • “The U.S. must carefully consider its role overseeing the Internet’s foundation before turning it over to an unaccountable organization.” – Fred Campbell, Director, Tech Knowledge
  • “The abdication of U.S. oversight of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) would have serious consequences for our national security interests and Constitutional freedoms.   Such a move would diminish the role of the U.S. government in guaranteeing Internet freedom by 1) giving foreign governments, including hostile and authoritarian regimes, a greater say in Internet core operating functions, thereby increasing the risk that the Internet could be used as an instrument of warfare; and 2) further empowering foreign governments and non-governmental stakeholders, who are neither obligated to protect the First Amendment nor necessarily inclined to do so, to make decisions regarding Internet freedom that run counter to free speech.  It is grossly irresponsible for any president to jeopardize core American interests this way, particularly in the absence of explicit congressional authorization, which the Protecting Internet Freedom Act requires.” – Center for Security Policy
  • “Relinquishing US control over ICANN and its freedom-preserving functions is perilous not just for America, but for the world.  The Congress – not the bureaucracy – should have final say on whether control over the Internet is ceded to any foreign entity.” - Tom Schatz, President, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste
  • *Groups supporting the Protecting Internet Freedom Act include: Heritage Action, Americans for Tax Reform, National Religious Broadcasters, American Center for Law and Justice, Center for Security Policy, Americans for Limited Government, TechFreedom, Tech Knowledge, Protect Internet Freedom, American Consumer Institute, Less Government, International Center for Law & Economics, the Center for Individual Freedom, Center for Freedom and Prosperity, American Commitment, Frontiers of Freedom and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste.
  • excerpts from: Ted Cruz’s website and Bill Fact Sheet