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Washington Examiner: Cruz circulates plan to stop U.S. Internet giveaway

By: Rudy Takala, Washington Examiner

A proposal being circulated by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, would block the plan to transfer control of a key component of the Internet before President Obama leaves office.

Cruz's "Protecting Internet Freedom Act" would direct the Department of Commerce to retain ownership of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority. The administration has sought to transfer the agency, which is responsible for administrative functions that transform code into language on the Internet, to an international authority called ICANN. Lawmakers worry that arrangement could empower countries like China and Iran to engage in more censorship, either at home or abroad.

"The U.S. government has long protected the core of the Internet from authoritarian regimes who view the Internet as a way to increase their influence and suppress our online freedom of speech," Cruz said in a background document being circulated with the bill. "The United States cannot allow authoritarian regimes to increase their influence over the core operating functions of the Internet."

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, joined Cruz in a letter to Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker last month that similarly warned the move would "significantly increase the power of foreign governments."

Cruz's proposal would spell out an additional requirement that the U.S. retains ownership of federal .gov and .mil domains as part of any plan to contract out responsibility for the agency.

ICANN's board voted to approve the plan to grant it authority over the agency during a March meeting in Morocco. The next step is for Commerce officials to grant their approval, which is expected to take place within the next week.

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