Feb. 5, 2015, Fairfax, Va.—Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement thanking Senate Republicans for including additional language in a resolution raising awareness of the Internet giveaway that states “Nothing in this resolution shall be construed as congressional approval of any proposal by ICANN to transition the stewardship of the functions of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority to the global multistakeholder community”:
“We thank Senators Hatch and Blunt for modifying their resolution to include language that makes it clear that Congress has not approved the Commerce Department relinquishment of its Internet stewardship functions property. Government oversight of those functions with its First Amendment umbrella has protected the free and open Internet for almost 17 years, and that is not property that should be relinquished lightly, and certainly not without a vote of Congress as the Constitution provides for.
“The fact is, there will never be protections offered by ICANN and the international community as broad as the First Amendment and federal court remedy that currently exists today. If the Commerce Department were to engage in censorship via its oversight of Internet governance, there would be a clear remedy in federal court. Without the government oversight, however, as was seen in the 2005 Ninth Circuit decision, Verisign v. McNeil, the non-profit ICANN cannot be sued on First Amendment grounds, since they are not a government entity.
“For that reason, we are comfortable with the current Internet governance contract with ICANN continuing indefinitely. The way to keep the Internet free and open is to keep it under the protection of the First Amendment.”
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