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ICYMI: Op-Ed in The Wall Street Journal Highlights Cruz Efforts to Protect Internet Freedom

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Sunday, The Wall Street Journal’s L. Gordon Crovitz penned an op-ed, highlighting Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) efforts to protect Internet freedom and halt President Obama’s plan to hand the Internet over to foreign governments. In the op-ed, Crovitz details the risks involved with the proposed transition and calls on Congress to actively reject President Obama’s attempt to end U.S. oversight of the Internet.

Read the op-ed in its entirety here. Excerpts are available below:

Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, back from the campaign trail, have something productive to do in Washington. They’ve taken the lead against President Obama’s plan to give up U.S. protection of the open Internet.

The Obama administration announced in 2014 it would end U.S. oversight by canceling the Commerce Department’s long-standing contract with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or Icann. Despite enormous effort over the past two years by the multi-stakeholder community of network engineers and developers, no one found an alternative to U.S. stewardship that would protect the global Internet from censorship by authoritarian regimes. 

In a draft letter to the Commerce Department ahead of this week’s Senate hearings, Sen. Rubio says the administration’s plan to replace U.S. oversight “would create a radically different governance structure for Icann,” which includes “an expanded role of governments.

Sen. Cruz, joined by Sens. James Lankford and Mike Lee, goes further. His letter points out that Iran is already plotting to move Icann out of the legal jurisdiction of the U.S., which would make it impossible to enforce protections. He also cites the constitutional requirement that Congress must vote to approve any transfer of “government property.” Icann’s domain-registration business earns hundreds of millions of dollars a year, making this a transfer of property worth billions. 

The Obama administration was naive to think unilaterally giving up oversight of Icann would placate authoritarian regimes. Even the Commerce Department admits as much. It issued a rare statement this month criticizing China for its recent draft policy that would require all websites serving China to have their domains approved by Beijing, not by Icann.

Few tech media outlets are reporting the risks from the planned radical changes to Internet governance. Many tech reporters have simply accepted the Obama administration’s disingenuous claim that the U.S. role is merely “clerical.” 

Congress should save the Internet by stopping President Obama’s plan. Authoritarian regimes can get the power to censor the Web globally only if the U.S. hands it to them.