Obama’s Reckless Plan Threatens U.S. Oversight of Internet

Obama’s Reckless Plan Threatens U.S. Oversight of Internet, by Roger Arnoff.

The Obama administration is poised to surrender control of certain Internet functions to non-profit ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, on October 1. …

President Obama is seeking to cede oversight of Internet protocols to a multinational body, effectively ending unilateral American control over these functions. …

According to Americans for Limited Government’s senior editor Robert Romano, … this is the “Last chance to save the free and open Internet.

Haven’t heard much about this in the media. It seems to being slipping under the radar, yet might have far reaching ramifications for freedom of speech around the world. Cannot be good.

An international body doesn’t inspire me with confidence, what with the UN Haman Rights Council often led by nasty dictatorships. Changes will be hidden by a wall of bureaucratic complexity, made by unaccountable globalist types who won’t have my interests at heart.

The US Congress just overruled Obama on suing the Saudis over 911 — maybe they could override him on this too.

[T[he mainstream media are working to cast the change as managerial, and inconsequential. The Washington Post’s Fact Checker Glenn Kessler recently gave Senator Cruz three Pinocchios for saying that the change would “empower countries like Russia, like China, like Iran to be able to censor speech on the Internet.” This is because, Kessler writes, “ICANN says it is only a technical administrator that does not regulate content on the Internet” and this claims “it has power that does not exist.”

Similarly, The Los Angeles Times editorial board calls Sen. Cruz’s argument “ridiculous.” “The only role the U.S. government plays today is an administrative one, checking to make sure that ICANN follows the correct procedures before any changes to the master list of domains can go into effect,” they write. “That’s hardly the Internet’s last defense against the tyranny of despots.”

However, the LA Times editorial board may be overlooking other functions of ICANN. According to Motherboard, “one of the most important cryptographic key pairs on the internet” is about to be changed “for the first time” by none other than ICANN. “This key ensures that when web users try to visit a website, they get sent to the correct address,” writes Joseph Cox. “Without it, many internet users could be directed to imposter sites crafted by hackers, such as phishing websites designed to steal information.”

According to the Epoch Times, the New York-based newspaper owned and run by Chinese-Americans opposed to the Communist regime in China, “Already, the Chinese regime is moving to fill the void left by the U.S. handover—and its new system for governing the internet goes far beyond the responsibilities held by ICANN.” They state that “Over the last two years, Chinese leaders have drafted an authoritarian set of laws that governs every facet of the internet.” …

The last word at this stage seems to be:

Sen. Cruz and Representative Sean Duffy (R-WI): “It’s important to remember that the devil is always in the details, and what the administration attempts to spin as a ‘clerical’ function can easily be used to bludgeon free speech.”

Why is the US allowing the Internet control to slip away? Opinions vary, but here is Sen. Cruz again:

“So why is Obama willing to jeopardize internet freedom?” they ask. “The administration believes that continued U.S. supervision of the domain name system will prompt China, Russia, Iran, and other countries that have been clamoring for more influence in internet governance to fracture the internet by setting up their own networks, perhaps under United Nations control…By ending U.S. oversight, the Obama administration will disempower the American people and empower China, Russia, and Iran, putting those regimes one step closer to their goal,” which Cruz and Duffy argue is “to control the global internet infrastructure.”

The change is irreversible.