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GOP Senators Urge Democrats to Protect Internet Freedom; Oppose Oct. 1 Oversight Transition

September 16, 2016

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202-228-7561

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Dan Sullivan (R-A.K.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) today issued the following joint statement urging Democratic senators to oppose the Obama administration’s proposed Internet oversight transition set to take place on October 1: 

“It is profoundly disappointing that the Obama administration has decided to press on with its plan to relinquish United States oversight of crucial Internet functions, even though Congress has not given its approval. For years, there has been a bipartisan understanding that the ICANN transition is premature and that critical questions remain unanswered about the influence of authoritarian regimes in Internet governance, the protection of free speech, the effect on national security, and impacts on consumers, just to name a few. 

“Without adequate answers to these questions, it would be irresponsible to allow the transition to occur in 15 days simply because of an artificial deadline set by the Obama administration.

“In fact, Democrats at both the state and national level have echoed many of these concerns. For example, former President Bill Clinton has warned that ‘[a] lot of people who have been trying to take this authority away from the U.S. want to do it for the sole purpose of cracking down on Internet freedom and limiting it and having governments protect their backsides instead of empower[ing] their people.’

“The issue of Internet freedom should unite us Americans – Republicans, Democrats, and independents alike. Partisanship and political gamesmanship have no place when it comes to the Internet, basic principles of freedom, and the right of individuals in our great nation and across the globe to speak online free from censorship. 

“We urge our Democratic colleagues to work with us to ensure this transition does not occur on October 1.”

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