The Obama administration’s decision to relinquish oversight over the group that manages the Internet’s architecture has raised an early red flag with Republicans, who blast the move as a threat to free speech.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers has managed the Web’s domain-name system under contract with the U.S. government for more than a decade — but the Los Angeles-based nonprofit has worked to transform itself into a global organization free of U.S. ties. European Union officials backed the globalization effort, which intensified with Edward Snowden’s leaks about the NSA’s sprawling surveillance programs.
“This is red meat for the base,” said former Rep. Mary Bono (R-Calif.), who sponsored a resolution in 2012 aimed at keeping the Internet free of governmental control. “We’re at a critical time where [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is proving he is capable of outmaneuvering the administration. … As they digest it, I think people are going to be very upset.”
U.S. lawmakers have long warned about the dangers of ceding ICANN’s authority to the International Telecommunication Union, a United Nations agency. They see the U.N. as a vehicle for countries with tight constraints to allow even greater online censorship. Congress unanimously passed Bono’s resolution ahead of a 2012 ITU meeting to reinforce America’s commitment to an open Internet. …
“Congress needs to prevent the Obama administration from giving away U.S. control over the Internet to any international body,” Americans for Limited Government said in a statement. “Perhaps this latest egregious action by the Obama administration in their quest to deconstruct the United States will finally wake Congress up to their power of the purse responsibility as a co-equal partner in government.”
And GOP FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly shared concern “that NTIA’s announcement could set the stage for foreign governments and quasi-governmental entities to try to gain control of the Internet.”