Ted Cruz is Trying to Sabotage the Internet’s Governance Transition
Ted Cruz is what is known as “a piece of work” (in the pejorative sense). Sam Gustin reports in Motherboard:
The US government’s plan to relinquish stewardship of key internet governance functions is under attack from Republicans who are using blatant falsehoods and fear-mongering to obstruct the historic transfer, according to internet policy experts.
Led by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Republicans are working to sabotage the US government’s long-standing plan to transfer oversight of core internet technical functions, including management of the Domain Name System (DNS), to a nonprofit group of global stakeholders.
Cruz and his GOP allies claim that the Oct. 1 transfer would undermine global internet freedom, imperil US national security, and violate federal law—and they’ve pledged to use the federal budget process to block the move. Cruz has even gone so far as tothreaten federal employees working on the transition with prosecution and imprisonment.
“If Congress fails to act, the Obama administration intends to give away control of the internet to an international body akin to the United Nations,” Cruz declared last weekon the Senate floor. “If the proposal goes though, it will empower countries like Russia, China, and Iran to be able to censor speech on the internet, your speech.”
Internet policy experts say Cruz’s attempt to delay the transition, which is largely clerical in nature and unlikely to even be noticed by the world’s 3.2 billion internet users, poses serious risks to global internet governance and could embolden repressive regimes around the world to undermine internet freedom and seek greater government-led or intergovernmental control of the internet.
“The Obama administration’s proposal to give away control of the internet poses a significant threat to our freedom,” Cruz said, warning darkly of “the significant, irreparable damage this proposed internet giveaway could wreak not only on our nation but on free speech across the world.”
Internet policy experts say the claims advanced by Cruz and his allies are blatantly false, and amount to political grandstanding that demonstrates a fundamental ignorance about how the internet works, especially when it comes to warnings that Russia, China, or Iran could somehow censor Americans’ speech on the internet.
“There’s no legitimate way for him to get to that conclusion,” Milton Mueller, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology School of Public Policy and a leading authority on global internet governance, told PolitiFact, which rated Cruz’s claims asFALSE. “What he’s doing is fear-mongering and trying to create a bogeyman, which is the United Nations.”
In fact, by launching a politically-motivated crusade against the internet governance transition, Cruz appears to be taking advantage of an important international tech policy issue to stoke the now-familiar conservative conspiracy theory that President Obama is not a loyal American, but instead is a traitorous interloper who wants to cede US sovereignty to the UN, or perhaps more ominously, to “enemies” of the US.
The US government has long maintained stewardship of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions, including the DNS, which operates like a “phone book” for the internet, and translates recognizable names like vice.com into numeric internet protocol (IP) addresses that connect users to websites around the world.
For more than a decade, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a Los Angeles-based nonprofit group, has managed the IANA functions under a contract with the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). But as far back as 1998, the US made clear that it intended to privatize the DNS in order to facilitate “international participation in its management.” . . .