Reversal: Obama may not surrender control of the Internet after all

By —— Bio and Archives--April 14, 2014

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We told you a few weeks back that the Obama Administration was prepared to take an astonishing step of surrender, even for this crew, in giving up control of the Internet’s domain name system. That would threaten the Internet’s independence as it would create an opportunity for regimes far less friendly to freedom to step in and gain power and influence.

Well, this idea was so horrendous that even Bill Clinton, in addition to 35 Republican senators, spoke up and told the administration not to do it, as well as a great many other voices. Guess what. You’ll be glad to know there is still some responsiveness in government, if only because the White House feels it has no choice.

The Wall Street Journal reports today that the White House is backing off, and it now appears the surrender may not happen any time soon, and maybe not at all. Assistant Commerce Secretary Lawrence Strickling said last week that the White House now is looking at extending its contract with ICANN - the organization that runs the domain registry under a contract with the U.S. government - by four years instead of simply handing over the authority to ICANN entirely as was originally proposed.

At the same time, Strickling tried not very convincingly to make the case that ceding U.S. control of the Internet would have presented no real threat of a power play by Russia, China or other bad actors. But no one who gives it much thought buys that, as L. Gordon Crovitz explains in the Journal:

These are false assurances. Steve DelBianco of the NetChoice trade association gave this example in congressional testimony: Under Icann rules, a majority of governments can simply vote to end the current consensus approach and switch to majority voting. China and Iran are already lobbying for this change. Russia, China and other governments switched to majority voting to outfox the U.S. at a conference of the International Telecommunications Union, a United Nations agency, in 2012. Mr. Sepulveda called that an “anomaly,” but the result was an 89-55 vote for a treaty giving U.N. legitimacy to governments cutting off the open Internet in their countries. This division of the Internet into open and closed networks goes into effect next year.

  The Obama administration somehow thinks sacrificing U.S. control of Icann will satisfy regimes eager further to undermine the open Internet. Mr. Strickling argues: “Taking this action is the best measure to prevent authoritarian regimes from expanding their restrictive policies beyond their borders.” The opposite is true. Granting these countries access to Icann and the root zone filenames and addresses on the Internet would give them the potential to close off the global Internet, including for Americans, by deciding rules for how all websites anywhere must operate.

The way to understand what’s happened here is basically this: The Obama Administration has little regard for America’s role in the world, so it was perfectly willing to give up U.S. control of the Internet - something we could never have gotten back. But what the Obama Administration has even less use for is political heat, and once they realized there would be enough heat to make this more trouble than it was worth, they backed off.

Now, if we can figure out a way to do the same with respect to ObamaCare, we’ll really have something.

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Dan Calabrese -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Dan Calabrese’s column is distributed by HermanCain.com, which can be found at HermanCain.com

A new edition of Dan’s book “Powers and Principalities” is now available in hard copy and e-book editions. Follow all of Dan’s work, including his series of Christian spiritual warfare novels, by liking his page on Facebook.

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