President Obama wants this to be the last month of an open, uncensored internet guaranteed by the U.S. government. His plan to end American stewardship would hand new power to authoritarian governments offended by the internet as we know it.
The good news is it appears congressional leaders have agreed to rescue the internet in time to prevent the Sept. 30 expiration of U.S. oversight. Sen. Ted Cruz, who has pushed hard against the plan since it was announced two years ago, told me last week he’s “cautiously optimistic” legislators will block it through a rider to the federal budget: “The basic proposition of keeping the internet free has united Republicans across the spectrum and should also unite Democrats with Republicans.”
Top Senate and House Republicans have signaled they will ensure U.S. oversight continues to protect the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or Icann, and its stakeholders. The leaders of the four congressional committees that oversee the internet—Sen. John Thune and Rep. Fred Upton (Commerce) and Sen. Chuck Grassley and Rep. Bob Goodlatte (Judiciary)—sent a detailed letter last week to Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and Attorney General Loretta Lynch: “This irreversible decision could result in a less transparent and accountable internet governance regime or provide an opportunity for an enhanced role for authoritarian nation-states.” They focused on several fatal problems with the Obama plan:
Several countries are committed to ending Icann’s status as a U.S. legal entity, which would invalidate its legal protections. “The matter of jurisdiction alone raises questions,” the legislators wrote. “These critically important jurisdictional issues cannot wait for resolution after the transition occurs.” – READ MORE