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Obama Administration Preparations to Give Away the Internet Violate Federal Law

Cruz, Lankford, Lee, and Duffy maintain Internet transition is illegal

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), and Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) today issued a joint statement following the Obama administration’s announcement that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers’ (ICANN) proposal to end U.S. oversight of the Internet is satisfactory. The members of Congress maintain that the Obama administration has violated federal law by undertaking preparations to give the Internet away to foreign governments.

“Today’s announcement by the Obama administration is a clear indication that it has flagrantly violated federal law,” Cruz, Lankford, Lee and Duffy said. “This is the latest step in a troubling series of steps that the administration has taken to relinquish its responsibilities, and it should send a concerning message to every American. If the United States relinquishes its supervision of the Internet—which it has nurtured from inception to become the greatest source of information in human history—authoritarian regimes could try to undermine the new system of Internet governance and thereby threaten free speech around the world. Congress must enact the Protecting Internet Freedom Act and continue to fight for a free Internet.”

In 2014, Congress enacted legislation prohibiting the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) from using any funds to relinquish its responsibility to oversee the key operating functions of the Internet. The administration has violated that prohibition by funding projects intended to facilitate the proposed transition of responsibility to ICANN. 

For example, in March 2016, the Obama administration awarded a contract to the Berkman Center at Harvard University to provide NTIA with an independent review and assessment of the transition. This contract was awarded under the false premise that Congress had ‘mandated the review prior to NTIA transitioning its stewardship of certain Internet technical functions to the global multistakeholder community, which is to be completed by June 30, 2016.’ But Congress never mandated this action."