When the Obama administration announced its plan to give up the U.S. protection of the Internet, they initially promised that the United Nations would never take control of it.
But now it seems the United States may go back on their word and give up control of the Internet stewardship to the United Nations at midnight on Sept. 30.
On Friday, Americans for Limited Government received a response after filing a Freedom of Information Act request for “all records relating to legal and policy analysis . . . concerning antitrust issues for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers” should the administration decide to give it up.
While Congress could still vote to keep it within the United States, it might be too complicated and also too late.
The administration replied to the request saying they had “conducted a thorough search for responsive records within its possession and control and found no records responsive to your request.”
How is it possible that the Obama administration has no plans for how the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) retains its antitrust exemptions?
ICANN can operate the entire World Wide Web root zone because it has the status of a legal monopolist, stemming from its initial contract with the Commerce Department that makes them instrumental for our government.
However, antitrust rules don’t apply to governments or organizations operating under government control.
In 1999 the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the monopoly on Internet domains because the Commerce Department had set “explicit terms” of the contract relating to the “government’s policies regarding the proper administration” of the domain system.
What this means is that without the U.S. contract, ICANN will seek to be overseen by another governmental group so as to keep its antitrust exemption.
The idea of ICANN becoming part of the United Nations has already been proposed so that they could censor the Internet globally.
Rick Manning, president of Americans for Limited Government said,
“politically blinded Obama administration missed the obvious point that ICANN loses its antitrust shield should the government relinquish control.”
Now the administration is being accused of its naivety because they did not consider the antitrust issue and therefore forcing ICANN to seek out another governmental institution.
And they spent the past two years preparing to give up the contract with ICANN. This consequently allowed ICANN to abuse its monopoly over Internet domains— which profits hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
The independent review found ICANN staffers were “intimately involved” in evaluating their own work. A company called Dot Registry had worked with officials to create a system ensuring anyone using these Web addresses was a legitimate registered company.
But ICANN rejected Dot Registry’s application as a community, which would have resulted in lowered fees to ICANN.
Delaware’s secretary of state objected:
“Legitimate policy concerns have been systematically brushed to the curb by ICANN staffers well-skilled at manufacturing bureaucratic processes to disguise pre-determined decisions.”
And Dot Registry’s lawyer, Arif Ali, said last week that in his professional opinion and experience, “ICANN is not ready to govern itself.”
Now we have a monopoly that could potentially be overseen by no one or seek out the U.N., should the Obama administration give it up.
Should we keep under the Obama administration, or let them run it themselves, or give it up to the U.N.?
Let us know your opinions in the comments below.