Politics

Obama’s Internet Surrender May Empower Bad Actors

Another bucket list item checked off for the president, another failure of GOP Congress to check his power

On Oct. 1, regulatory control over a significant portion of Internet infrastructure will be transferred from the U.S. government to a multinational, private organization composed of unelected officials.

“Friday is the potential point at which Obama can transfer control of the supervision of the internet from the United States to the international system,” former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton said on “The Laura Ingraham Show” Thursday.

“Friday is the potential point at which Obama can transfer control of the supervision of the internet from the United States to the international system.”

Bolton is oversimplifying to some extent — the United States does not oversee the general supervision of the world wide web; no entity does.

But what the United States has been overseeing since the 1990s is the IANA, which is responsible for the allocation of things like global IP addresses, AS numbers, and DNS root zones — it is effectively the internet’s master directory of all numbers relating to Internet Protocol (IP) and the mechanism that ensures traffic can flow freely across the internet.

“This is the concrete manifestation of the loss of sovereignty,” Bolton continued. “Once we cede control to the international system, we will never get it back and the internet as we know it will disappear forever.”

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Those opposed to the move, like Bolton, say that an independent ICANN based on a multi-stakeholder model inevitably opens the organization — and the entire DNS — to the influence of anti-American, anti-Democratic regimes.

“It will give the regimes like Russia, China, Iran, North Korea — you name it — control over something that they neither deserve nor will benefit the rest of the world,” Bolton said.

Proponents of this argument point to the fact that an IANA subject to U.S. government oversight is an IANA subject to First Amendment protections. “Is ICANN bound by the First Amendment?” Cruz asked ICANN CEO and President Goran Marby at a hearing earlier in September. “To my understanding — no,” Marby replied.

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While ICANN has put in place measures to protect a free and open internet once it is in full independent control of IANA, it’s forgotten a crucial fact that potentially leaves it open to government influence. By acting as an effective extension of the government, ICANN currently has an antitrust exemption — an exemption it would lose.

Americans for Limited Government received a response from the Obama administration in August after filing a Freedom of Information Act request demanding “all records relating to legal and policy analysis … concerning antitrust issues for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.” There were no records relating to this crucial question.

“The reason ICANN can operate the entire World Wide Web root zone is that it has the status of a legal monopolist, stemming from its contract with the Commerce Department that makes ICANN an ‘instrumentality’ of government,” L. Gordon Crovitz wrote in The Wall Street Journal in August. “Without the U.S. contract, ICANN would seek to be overseen by another governmental group so as to keep its antitrust exemption,” he explained.

“Authoritarian regimes have already proposed ICANN become part of the U.N. to make it easier for them to censor the internet globally,” Crovitz noted. But in this observation, Crovitz raises another point.

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Authoritarian regimes would much rather ICANN and IANA be subject to supranational national government oversight via an organization like the U.N. A multi-stakeholder model could give such regimes moderate influence but not control.

Moreover, authoritarian regimes can and already do censor the internet in their own countries. In truth, the greatest threat in ICANN getting independent oversight of IANA is not people like Vladimir Putin, but people like George Soros.

The prevailing winds in this country and Europe are for complete control over the tone and timbre of online speech, and ICANN is at present firmly in the hands of the type of globalist liberals who believe that opposition to immigration is hate speech and that those who value national sovereignty are all fascists.

“Can you imagine what the new edicts will be for the personal code of responsibility, the global community hate speech police?” LifeZette Editor-in-Chief Laura Ingraham asked Bolton.

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