The U.S. Department of Commerce approved a final plan on August 16 to turn control of the internet over to the the non-profit organization Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). ICANN currently is responsible for domain name databases and other internet maintenance roles. With this move many believe that a free internet is threatened as more nations become involved.
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) in June released a short video that explains why this is a problem that Congress should act to stop.
Cruz and Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) in June introduced the Protecting Internet Freedom Act, which would prevent the Obama administration from giving the Internet away to a global organization that will allow over 160 foreign governments to have increased influence over the management and operation of the Internet.
The bill would ensure the continued protection of Internet freedom by prohibiting the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) from allowing the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions contract to expire, unless specifically authorized by Congress. The Protecting Internet Freedom Act would also ensure that the United States maintains sole ownership of the .gov and .mil top-level domains, which are vital to national security.
“The Obama administration is months away from deciding whether the United States Government will continue to provide oversight over core functions of the Internet and protect it from authoritarian regimes that view the Internet as a way to increase their influence and suppress freedom of speech,” Cruz said in a released statement made back in June. “This issue threatens not only our personal liberties, but also our national security. We must act affirmatively to protect the Internet and the amazing engine for economic growth and opportunity the Internet has become, and I urge my colleagues to support this legislation.”
“President Obama wants to hand over the keys to the Internet to countries like China and Russia,” said Duffy added. “This is reckless and absurd. The governments of these countries do not value free speech. In fact, they censor the Internet and routinely repress and punish political dissidents. They cannot be trusted with something as fundamental to free speech as a free and open Internet. I will continue to fight President Obama’s irresponsible plan to surrender U.S. sovereignty of the Internet to the world’s worst actors and to protect our Constitutional right to free speech.”
The planned handoff is supposed to take place on September 30th. Congress needs to act before then.