On October 1st, the United States will no longer control the Internet — unless a few Attorney Generals get their way.
Republican attorneys general are making a last-ditch bid to block the Obama administration from ceding U.S. oversight of the internet’s domain name system, filing suit in federal court ahead of an imminent deadline for the hand-off.
The AGs from Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma and Nevada asked a judge late Wednesday to step in and stop the transition to an international oversight body, after GOP lawmakers failed to stall the move as part of a short-term spending bill.
“Trusting authoritarian regimes to ensure the continued freedom of the internet is lunacy,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement. “The president does not have the authority to simply give away America’s pioneering role in ensuring that the internet remains a place where free expression can flourish.”
Paxton was among the four Republican AGs who filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court Southern District of Texas, Galveston Division.
The U.S. government has been in charge of domain names for more than three decades, thanks to a Commerce Department agency’s oversight of an obscure, but powerful, Los Angeles-based nonprofit called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
But why is this even important? Ted Cruz answers that question with another, asked to ICANN CEO Göran Marby:
“Is ICANN bound by the First Amendment?”
Mr. Marby initially replied:
“I think you know the answer to that question.”
Sen. Cruz tried again:
“I’m asking you for your views.”
Mr. Marby’s blunt response:
“To my understanding, no.”
That is all that many Americans need to know.
Thus, the end of the free international exchange of ideas may be coming to an end.