Will the United Nations gain control over the Internet under Barack Obama’s giveaway plan?
That is the question being asked around Washington, D.C., right now. The Wall Street Journal answered with its explosive article, “An Internet Giveaway to the U.N.”
The administration argues that the “transition” will have no practical effect on how the Internet operates, but Judith Bergman of the Gatestone Institute disagrees.
Pointing to the U.N.’s Geneva Declaration of Principles which clearly lays out the U.N.’s designs on taking over the Internet, Bergman argues that the giveaway could, “spell the end of the current era of free speech on the Internet, as well as free enterprise.”
Authoritarian governments around the world bolster Bergman’s case. China issued a statement saying, “It is necessary to ensure that United Nations plays a facilitating role in setting up international public policies pertaining to the Internet.”
The Russians weighed in, arguing that, “We consider it necessary to consecutively increase the role of governments in the Internet governance, with strengthening the activity of the International Telecommunications Union [the UNs telecommunications arm] in this field… in the development of ethical aspects of Internet use.”
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While some might view the Russians calling for the development of the “ethical aspects” of anything as laughable, in reality it is a direct pathway toward censorship of the Web.
Sens. Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and Jim Lankford report that the ICANN board of directors will consider language for the by-laws of the organization which will put “international human rights” as a prime consideration of the organization.
In a May 20, 2016 letter to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, they argue this provision “would open the door to the regulation of content. Inclusion of such a commitment would unquestionably be outside the historical mission of an organization whose functions are supposedly ‘very limited to the names and numbers and protocol parameters which are way down in the plumbing of the Internet.’'”
Yet, even with these many legal concerns, Obama continues to plunge forward to turn the keys to the Internet over to an obscure not-for-profit tax exempt organization based in California when the clock strikes twelve on Sept. 30, 2016.
They are proceeding in spite of Congress defunding actions by the administration to pursue the giveaway for each of the past two fiscal years. In fact, President Obama’s violation of the defund law has so outraged Rep. John Culberson, the House Appropriations cardinal responsible for the Commerce Department’s budget, that he wrote to Secretary Pritzker, “Section 539 of the Fiscal Year 2016 Omnibus prohibits funds provided in the Act from being used to relinquish the NTIA’s responsibility for the authoritative root zone file and the IANA functions, and I will ensure this section is fully enforced. As we have previously discussed, I continue to oppose the use of any funds to plan for, prepare for, work on [the] transition [of] the Internet Domain Name System functions.”
The legality of the administration’s Internet giveaway being questionable, the potential dangers of a U.N. takeover are alarming.
This has Americans for Limited Government calling on Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to force through language in September’s spending bill specifically prohibiting the transition for a period of not less than two years.
They are also urging Ryan to prepare for a lawsuit to stop the transition in order to protect Congress’ Article One authority.
“The power of the purse is meaningless if the president can ignore it, and it is up to Speaker Ryan to take every measure possible to stop the executive branch’s proceeding with the Internet giveaway in defiance of the law,” says Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning.
The time is short for Congress to act, with a Sept. 30 deadline when the contract between the Commerce Department and ICANN expires looming.
The Obama administration’s plan is to abandon the oversight and responsibility for Internet governance, allowing those functions to fall into the hands of a group which is already considering content controls over the Internet.
As Gatestone Institute’s Judith Bergman warns, this could be the beginning of the end of the free and open Internet. The expectation of First Amendment protections on the Web will be a thing of the past.
U.N. control or not, failure of the U.S. government to maintain the current light touch oversight over Internet governance is a recipe for disaster as nations like China, Russia and Saudi Arabia begin to push for and exercise greater control over speech under the guise of limiting “hate speech” and protecting international human rights.
And when the U.N. takes over, it’s just a matter of time before it begins applying international law that would criminalize Charlie Hebdo or any criticism of Shariah law as “hate speech.”
And that would fit right in with President’s Obama’s declaration before the General Assembly that “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”