Skip to comments.Internet Control in an Anti-Free Speech World
Posted on 03/21/2014 9:41:03 AM PDT by RetiredArmy
Last Friday, U.S. officials announced plans to relinquish control of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which manages Internet infrastructure to the so-called global community. Despite denials from the administration, the consequences of that move do indeed include the possibility of the Internet falling under U.N. control. That reality has been pursued for years by pro-censorship factions led by Russia and China. As such, enormous questions exist about the future of the Internet under the stewardship of international interests questions that the Obama administration seems wholly unconcerned with.
The consequences of relinquishing control of the Internet involve more than censorship. U.S. security could be jeopardized as well. Under invariably incompetent U.N. control, it could mean a hostile foreign power disabling the Internet for us, former Bush administration State Department advisor Christian Whiton warned. He also sounded the warning on the possibility that any U.N. control of the Internet could engender taxes. While the Obama administration says it is merely removing federal oversight of a non-profit, we should assume ICANN would end up as part of the United Nations, Whiton said. If the U.N. gains control what amounts to the directory and traffic signals of the Internet, it can impose whatever taxes it likes. It likely would start with a tax on registering domains and expand from there.
Since the birth of the Internet, which grew out of a Defense Department program that began in the 1960s, America has always played the principal role in maintaining the master database for domain names, the assignment of Internet protocol addresses and other critical Web functions. That technical system is called the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). An agency within the Commerce Department, the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA), has contracted out IANAs operations to ICANN on a biennial basis since 2000. The latest contract expires in September of 2015.
NTIA Administrator Larry Strickling denied the possibility of a U.N. or equivalent type takeover, insisting that ICANN must meet four conditions to make the transition. We will not accept a proposal that replaces the NTIA role with a government-led or an intergovernmental solution, Strickling said in a conference call. He has asked ICANN to begin the process for making a formal transition that must support and enhance the multistakeholder model and maintain the openness of the Internet.
ICANN itself wants to get out from under U.S. oversight, and their effort has been abetted by European officials whose promotion of a globalization campaign has intensified in the wake of fugitive Edward Snowdens leaks about the National Security Administrations overarching surveillance programs. An NTIA official denied the connection, insisting U.S. stewardship of the Internet was always intended to be temporary.
Regardless of which scenario is accurate, ICANNs motive is transparent. The organization has elicited the wrath of many in the business community who believe their decision-making is aimed at accommodating the industry that sells domain names, and whose fees provide the lions share of ICANNs revenue. They believe ICANNs contract with the U.S. mitigates some of those abuses, and that international control would amount to no control at all.
There is little question that the selling of domain names is a huge business, one with enormous potential for fraud. As a 2012 article in the Washington Post revealed, several groups have been out to get control of names that would give them a huge advantage over their competitors. Examples include Amazon bidding for control over all the Web addresses that end with .book, Google for .buy. and Allstate for .carinsurance.
They further sounded the alarm about Donuts Inc., a company with close ties to a documented Internet spammer. Donuts Inc. bid $57 million for 307 new domains, including .doctor, .financial and .school. At the time, David E. Weslow, a D.C.-based lawyer who represents several major corporations, contended that such top-level domains would precipitate a Wild West for fraud and abuse. Law enforcement officials agreed, noting that the rapid expansion of new domains would increase the likelihood of cybercrime, even as identifying the perpetrators would become more difficult. In 2012, there were 22 top level domains. Here is ICANNs currentand vastly expandedlist.
ICANN manages that list via an international structure of governance comprised of stakeholders that include governments, corporations, and civil society activists. Under its contract with the NTIA, it could theoretically be forced to render a website nameless, effectively removing it from the Internet. When that contract ends, a new form of global governance will take its placeone that has yet to be determined. There have been several efforts over the course of the last decade to transfer control of the Internet to the U.N.s International Telecommunications Union (ITU), whose website claims it is committed to connecting the world. Yet those efforts have been led by Russia and China, two countries whose commitment to connecting the world begins and ends with censoring content inimical to their interests.
Unsurprisingly, both believe the only stakeholders that really matter are countries. Thats because under the current contract, nations can only suppress Internet content. They cant prevent websites from registering domain names. If those parameters change, domain name registry could be censored under the auspices of protecting ones national sovereignty.
ICANN president Fadi Chehade dismisses that concern as well as others. Nothing will be done in any way to jeopardize the security and stability of the Internet, he promised. He called the Obama administrations decision historic.
Republicans werent buying it. While I certainly agree our nation must stridently review our procedures regarding surveillance in light of the NSA controversy, to put ourselves in a situation where censorship-laden governments like China or Russia could take a firm hold on the Internet itself is truly a scary thought, said Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC). I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Senate Commerce Committee and with the Commerce Department on this, becauseto be bluntthe global Internet community this would empower has no First Amendment.
Former Rep. Mary Bono (R-CA), who sponsored a unanimously-passed 2012 resolution to keep the Internet free from governmental control, concurred. Were 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, she contended.
As if on cue, Amnesty International revealed that Russia instituted a media blackout that included blocking a number of Internet sites in the Russian Federation prior to secession vote in Crimea. That censorship was enabled by an amendment to the Law on Internet Information signed by Putin on Feb. 1, giving the Prosecutor Generals office the authority to block websites that publish any calls for activities considered to be unlawful.
An op-ed by Daniel Castro, a senior analyst at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), reveals whats at stake. He notes that two years ago, on the 25th anniversary of the registration of the first .com domain name, his company released a report revealing that the annual global economic benefit of the commercial Internet equaled $1.5 trillion, more than the global sales of medicine, investment in renewable energy, and government investment in R&D, combined. He believes all of it would be at risk if the Obama administration doesnt resist giving up control of the Internet. He contends such a move would bring about a splintered Internet that would stifle innovation, commerce, and the free flow and diversity of ideas that are bedrock tenets of the worlds biggest economic engine.
Nonetheless, the effort has its defenders. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WVA) called the move consistent with other efforts the U.S. and our allies are making to promote a free and open Internet, and to preserve and advance the current multi-stakeholder model of global Internet governance. Gene Kimmelman, president of Public Knowledge, a hard-left group promoting itself as a public interest vehicle, concurred. This is a step in the right direction to resolve important international disputes about how the Internet is governed, he said.
This so-called step in the right direction is anything but. It is useful to remember that along with Russian and China, the EU criminalizes free speech, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference is determined to silence those who resist terror and jihad. And despite Chehades contention that the Obama administrations decision marks a point of maturity in the ICANN community and the global Internet community, he revealed that governments would be welcome as equal parties with others in the coming discussions for laying out the appropriate transitional process. Those discussions are scheduled to begin at an ICANN meeting in Singapore next week.
ITIFs Daniel Castro sounds the ultimate alarm, one that should concern every American. Yes, Internet architecture is technical and, frankly, quite boring to outsiders, he acknowledges. But it is an issue with huge consequences that demands attention from policymakers. It is too important to get wrong. And if the Obama Administration gives away its oversight of the Internet, it will be gone forever.
Fadi Chehade is a citizen of Egypt, Lebanon, and the United States.
hmm I wonder to which Nation his allegiance is strongest..if he has any allegiance at all.
I like what free thinking people are doing, such as those who are open source advocates, they will find a way around any gov’t control of the internet eventually.
Learn to use TOR with IPv6... no stopping us.
Not strictly true. They maintain and issue IP addresses and domain names. 'Infrastructure' covers a lot of area. ICANN has nothing to do with hardware infrastructure.
It all revolves around the "domain name service"(DNS) servers, the boxes which your PC interrogates to find out that freerepublic.com corresponds to IP address 184.108.40.206. Essentially, think of them like phone company directory -- if your name is not in the directory, calling directory assistance will not get your phone number.
The obvious way around any attempt by any foreign power controlling the "official" DNS servers is for some group to have its own DNS servers, which people can point their PCs to. JimRob could have a "patriot DNS service", with its own database of IP addresses of "politically incorrect" sites. If your PC pings Jim's DNS for "wnd.com", it returns the IP address from its own database. If your PC pings for a name not in JimRob's database, the request gets passed on to the "official" servers.
Free speech DOES exist under the auspices of the US Constitution and inside the USA. Unfortunately, we don’t have the legal ability to enforce the Bill of Rights in other countries.
And if the US finds that free speech is being suppressed by way of the domain naming system, it’s easy enough to create an alternate set of DNS servers, which would be accessible in the USA and thereby preserve the free speech of the USA.
As far as the rest of the world ... well ... we really don’t control the rest of the world.
Giving it away as if it was theirs to give.
How nice. :)
Shouldn't the list of things that supposedly won't be jeopardized extend beyond "security and stability"? Those are mostly technical considerations, and do not include such things as freedom from censorship and government control.
And, yeah, it would be "historic", sort of like Obama's support of the Muslim Brotherhood was "historic".
Consider the UN’s interpretation of blasphemy (against Islam only) being applied to the internet.
Consider to UK’s interpretation of liable being applied to the internet. “True is no defense.” Just because something is true doesn’t mean it isn’t defamation.
Consider that above on steroids.
And, most of the countries of the world will use the technology to identify political dissidents...based of what a citizen might simply view, let alone create on the internet.
40% of the UN member states are tin-pot dictators, they shouldn’t be allowed to manage a hotdog cart let alone the internet.
Banks have been going paperless, and the talk of chips for prevention of ID theft puts all Christians at risk, as well as Conservatives; all Americans somewhat. The Bible says the Antichrist will give the mark of the beast and only those who have that mark will be able to buy or sell...think about how that is possible if the UN (more Islam countries than you think now), and whose allegiance would you have to pledge to in order to use the internet eventually...maybe not in 2 or 4 years but down the road.
Think about the population issue, Muslims have more children than any other group...France, and other countries have that issue now...Islam will take over slowly if only by population explosion.
STUPID for USA to give up control of the Internet, we have become self destructive with Zero and the IGNORATS help.
I don’t think God will put Church Age Christians in the position to have to worry about the Mark. I think the Rapture will occur before that event. However, those that come to faith during the Trib are going to have to make that decision. That is the feeling I get from Scripture and from reading commentaries about the Mark.
Sorry, I have never heard of what you are speaking about.
We already lost free speech. It’s called “political correctness.”
Just another example of why Obama needs to be removed from office ASAP. It goes without question now that the only agenda of this guy is to destroy the US, so WTF are Republicans going to do about it? Are they going to continue to hide under their desks while this foreign enemy agent moves on to the next thing and destroys it? Is destroying healthcare not enough which directly threatens the lives of the citizens of this country? How much more evidence do they need? Biden is stupid, but stupid beats being an enemy foreign agent. We got 3 more years of this putz with a questionable background, and God knows what he is going to do by the end of his term. For all we know he could be planning a major terror attack, how do we know? This is the character of the guy, he IS an enemy of the US. PERIOD! Everything he does shows that!
I tend to agree, however we have no guarantee on pre-Trib, and there is Mid-Trib and Post Trib philosophies out there.
I, for one, believe that Revelations is clear after comparing many scriptures, that the Armies of Heaven in the White Robes are the Christians who have been to the Bride Supper of the Lamb, and return following Jesus on the White Horses to Armageddon to defeat the enemies of Israel.
My belief supports a Pre-Trib Rapture.
However if you think about the change over of the Internet to the UN (other countries control) that is a near possibility in a few years for a mark (chip) controlling access for online banking aka buying and selling. There will definitely be a requirement, and if you know Islam you can imagine what it will be.
So many people are taken unaware in storms, attacks (9/11), and transformations...Who would have thought O could have done so much, in so little time, to cripple the greatest nation on earth economically, politically, and militarily?.
Scripture is CLEAR. We escape the wrath. The Trib is wrath. I think Paul is perfectly clear it is pre-trib. I don’t believe the mid-trib or end of the trib is correct. Why would any bride marry a husband that beat the heck out of her and then marry him. I believe Christ would not allow His bride to get beat up then bring her home to get married. I think the Scriptures are clear. Perfectly clear. Others have their right to their opinions. I will stick with mine. Thank you.
Amen to that.
Aren’t we on the same page, if you read my comments correctly?