When the Obama Administration announced its plan to give away American control of the Internet to an unspecified UN-like international organization, it promised that we would not notice a difference. Since revealing the plan, the Administration and ICANN have both gone to great lengths to reassure us that this plan will have no impact on our Internet experience and that we’ll be happy with the proposed change. They use warm and fuzzy buzz words like “collaborative,” “multi-stake-holder,” and “broad-based.” It is all designed to sound uncontroversial and safe.
We have recently learned through MIT Professor Jonathan Gruber’s damning admissions that he helped the Administration formulate a strategy to misrepresent its healthcare proposal to hide its unpopular features and falsely fabricate popular facets that would not be a part of the plan, but would be used to sell it. This is precisely what the Administration is doing with its Internet proposal — they are denying unpleasant facts and replacing them with fake features designed to make the plan less threatening and more popular.
Grubering is now a verb — named for the MIT professor caught on videotape bragging to fellow academics that he and the Administration had specifically planned to make their healthcare proposal more palatable by lying about the details. They purposefully told voters soothing falsehoods because they knew the truth would inflame massive opposition. Gruber scoffed at the “stupidity of the American voter” presumably because enough of them believed the lies.
Now the Administration and ICANN seek to employ this same Gruber strategy. The administration and ICANN have both repeatedly reassured Americans that foreign governments will not be able to control or influence Internet governance after the US gives away its governance role. Not surprisingly, that is not true. In fact, it is not even plausibly true. ICANN has proposed allowing its Government Advisory Committee (GAC) — a committee comprised of government representatives from around the world — to acquire new powers that would effectively control everything ICANN does.
This means that Russia’s Vladimir Putin, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, Iran’s Hassan Rouhani, and China’s Xi Jinping could well put their stooges on the GAC and thereafter control ICANN and the Internet.
There is not even one sensible American who believes that the Internet will improve if the world’s dictators and autocrats are given a bigger role in its governance. Turning the Internet over to an international body that will likely be dominated by dictators and autocrats who use government power to silence and subjugate those with whom they disagree makes no sense and is even profoundly unAmerican.
Moreover, Putin has invaded Ukraine because it suited his purposes, despite condemnation and sanctions. This Internet proposal would give Putin an easy and legal way to invade and dominate the Internet. It would be profoundly dangerous from a national security perspective for America to turn the Internet over to an international body. Anyone who has watched Putin turn natural gas off to entire nations in the dead of winter to obtain an upper-hand in negotiations does not need a vivid imagination to figure out how we would use any control he can exercise over the Internet. Even worse, imagine the powerful tool that sponsors of terrorism could gain and how they would use it to attack the rest of the world’s communications and commerce.
But it doesn’t stop there. China and many other nations routinely steal technology and intellectual property, damaging not only American businesses, but stealing national security secrets. If we give away the Internet to be governed by those who steal technology, we shouldn’t be surprised to see theft increase to unprecedented levels. None of this makes any sense for America.
Here’s the unvarnished truth — America invented, developed, and built the Internet. It is now the world’s library and an engine of banking and commerce. It must continue to be governed by the rule of law and the U.S. Constitution’s protection of Free Speech and the modest check and balance of answering periodically to the American public.
Congress must aggressively work to block this internet giveaway plan. Congress must not allow this Grubering of the Internet to stand. The House and the Senate must block any implementation and funding of this plan. This is not a plan that has even the slightest merit. There is nothing to be done, but stop it!
George Landrith is the President of Frontiers of Freedom a public policy think tank devoted to promoting a strong national defense, free markets, individual liberty, and constitutionally limited government. You can learn more at www.ff.org.