Obama crashes Internet and gives pieces to China & Russia?
While the presidential race captures the lion’s share of airtime, former candidate and Texas Senator Ted Cruz has shifted his attention to the Internet. At the end of the month the Obama administration plans to release control of domain-name oversight of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, a global non-profit organization.
Many tech companies support the plan, but critics argue the US government would give power to authoritarian regimes like China and Russia who already censor free speech on the Web.
“Imagine an Internet run like far too many European countries that punished so-called hate speech, a notoriously malleable concept that has often been used to suppress views disfavored by those in power. Or imagine an Internet run by many Middle Eastern countries that punish what they deem to be blasphemy. Or imagine an Internet run like China or Russia that punish and incarcerate those who engage in political dissent,” said Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), Senate Judiciary Committee.
He blasted the former director of ICANN and accused Fadi Chehade of working with the Chinese. “Mr. Chehade left ICANN after the transition plan was approved to lead a high-level working group for — wait for it, China’s world Internet conference, a conference that was rightly criticized for refusing to let New York Times and Washington Post reporters cover it. As a result Reporters Without Borders demanded a boycott calling China an enemy of the Internet. And yet, we are being asked to trust an organization without having our government have the authority to protect free speech, to trust an organization whose former leader who shepherded this plan has gone to associate himself with and stand with those who are in the words of Reporters Without Borders, the enemy of the Internet.”
In addition, Reporters Without Borders has called many of the countries that will sit on the board, enemies of the Internet. The group has even called for a boycott of China.
So what does this all mean? When was the Internet created and who claims responsibility? Unlike modern folklore, the Internet was created by ARPANET or the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network. It was funded by the Department of Defense, sorry Al Gore, in the 1960s. So technically it’s the American taxpayer who can claim ownership of the World Wide Net. Over the years, the Internet has evolved from national security tool to transforming modern day communications that represent the economic lifeblood for free economies around the globe.
Fast forward to 2014, the Obama administration announced that the US would relinquish oversight of ICANN. It’s charged with dispatching web addresses and domain names (including .gov, .com and .edu) and makes sure they are properly organized to run smoothly. The governing body was spearheaded by the Obama administration that sought to end the Department of Commerce role in maintaining the web.
The firebrand Senator Cruz reasoned that the transfer of ICANN amounted to a zero sum game—one that would decrease US influence and cede power to other unsavory countries, like Russia and China.
The latest GOP slugfest has garnered surprising support from Cruz’s former rival GOP candidate Donald Trump. His senior policy advisor, Stephen Miller released a statement.
“The Republicans in Congress are admirably leading a fight to save the Internet this week, and need all the help the American people can give them to be successful. Congress needs to act, or internet freedom will be lost for good since there will be no way to make it great again once it is lost.”
It continued, “Internet freedom is now at risk with the President’s intent to cede control to international interests, including countries like China and Russia, which have a long track record of trying to impose online censorship.”
Cruz’s efforts even garnered some support from Trump that read, “Appreciate @realDonaldTrump’s support of our efforts to stop Obama’s Internet handover & keep the #Internet free.” Surprisingly, Cruz officially endorsed Mr. Trump this week after a bitter primary campaign.
As for Democrats, Hillary Clinton supports the Obama administration’s plan. It’s even included in her tech policy platform, and highlights the transition as a “critical step towards safeguarding the Internet’s openness for future generations.” (Will this enrich her foundation? Stay tuned.)
The liberal media, as well as large tech companies, have also supported the plan. But keep in mind, large tech firms, like Facebook and Google, have cozied up to authoritarian countries giving them access to censorship tools through back doors – all in the name of added revenue and not in the furtherance of individual freedoms.
Parting words from Cruz lamented the decision to free the Internet from government oversight, “Once the government’s out of the picture, First Amendment protections go away. Why risk it? The Internet works. It’s not broken.”