Senate Commerce Committee surrenders U.S. oversight of the Internet

June 25, Fairfax, Va.—Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement blasting the Senate Commerce Committee for rejecting by a 5-19 vote an amendment to the Dotcom Act by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) that would have required Congressional approval of any relinquishment of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) to the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN):

“Once again, members of Congress are voting to surrender congressional authority to the Obama administration, without even an opportunity to see what they’re voting on. Nobody in Congress has seen ICANN’s proposal to commandeer Internet governance from the U.S. government, but the Senate Commerce committee has blindly just authorized whatever plan they might come up with. This is reckless. U.S. government oversight of the IANA functions has guaranteed a free and open Internet for almost two decades. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

“It is alarming the speed with which members of both chambers of Congress are willing to cede U.S. sovereignty to an unaccountable private foundation that is now establishing a global monopoly over DNS resolution. Free of government oversight, there will no longer be any First Amendment protections for the Internet, guaranteeing the IANA functions will one day be used to engage in censorship. In the not so distant future, the Internet will not be so free and open.”

Attachments:

Sen. Ted Cruz statement before the Senate Commerce Committee, June 25, 2015 at http://www.commerce.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=Hearings&ContentRecord_id=fc4ffe29-8386-43aa-835f-2703329209a5&ContentType_id=14f995b9-dfa5-407a-9d35-56cc7152a7ed&Group_id=81506421-e467-4ad2-906c-c415ff3467f4 :

“Mr. Chairman, I’d like to offer Cruz amendment 1. I want to commend the chairman and the authors of this bill. I think this is a good faith effort to begin to provide congressional oversight over this exceptionally important topic, which is namely the administration’s announced intention to hand over control of the Internet to a multinational, multiparty group. Everyone on this committee I think believes that the Internet is important for commerce, that it’s important for entrepreneurial freedom, that it’s important for the First Amendment. Unfortunately this [bill] provides congressional oversight but it sets the presumption that if Congress doesn’t act in 30 days, the administration can go forward with its stated intention. My amendment simply reverses that presumption and says that the contract has to maintain in place unless Congress acts. You know, there has been a persistent pattern for a number of years of Congress acquiescing and handing over our authority. The Constitution gives legal authority to this body and over and over again, members of this body have been willing to give away our constitutional authority. If it is a good idea constituent with U.S. national security interests, to hand over, to give away the Internet then Congress should debate that and approve it. If this bill is passed in its current form here’s a look into what will happen. The report will be submitted to Congress, 30 days will pass, Congress will do nothing, and then the Internet will be handed over. We should act affirmatively to protect the Internet. And I would not one of the many reasons for doing so is that under the explicit text of the Constitution, Article IV, Section 3 , the Constitution provides, ‘Congress shall have the power to dispose of … property belonging to the United States.’ It is only Congress, it is not the Assistant Secretary of Commerce, that has that authority, and under the text of the ICANN contract, it states, ‘All deliverables under this contract become the property of the U.S. Government,’ and the Constitution gives only this body, Congress, the authority, to dispose of property of the U.S. government. Mr. Chairman, one of the problems with the current draft is it will most assuredly be argued in court by the Justice Department when Commerce goes ahead with the giveaway of the Internet that this act has implicitly overridden the contract and authorized the giveaway of federal property. Namely that the opening sentence of this bill provides, ‘Until the date that is 30 legislative days after the submission to Congress of the report described in subsection (b), the Assistant Secretary may not permit the NTIA’s role in the performance of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority functions to terminate, lapse, be cancelled, or otherwise cease to be in effect.’ The Department of Justice lawyers will certainly argue that that implicitly authorizes doing exactly that, once 30 days have passed. I think the members on this committee will bear responsibility for the consequences of that.”

“Can Ted Cruz save the Internet?” By Robert Romano, June 24, 2015 at http://netrightdaily.com/2015/06/can-ted-cruz-save-the-internet/

Amendment to the Dotcom Act, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), June 24, 2015 at http://getliberty.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Cruz-DOTCOM-Act-Amendment.pdf

Letter to Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, June 24, 2015 at http://getliberty.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/DotComActSenateCommerceLetter-6-24-15.pdf

Interview Availability: Please contact Americans for Limited Government at 703-383-0880 ext. 106 or at media@limitgov.org to arrange an interview with ALG experts including ALG President Rick Manning.

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