ICANN pressured to police online content

Nov. 19, 2015, Fairfax, Va.—Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement in response a Mayer Brown law firm synopsis of the October meeting of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in Dublin where topics discussed included “the scope of ICANN’s ability to regulate online content”:

“The U.S. government contract with ICANN to administer the domain name system has not even lapsed yet, and already, ICANN is openly discussing the scope of its ability to regulate online content. ICANN will be the world’s only hub for linking easy-to-remember domain names to IP addresses. The only legal constraint that stops them from censoring content is the First Amendment protections associated with fulfilling a U.S. government contract. Remove the contract, and cede the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority functions, as the Obama administration intends, and those protections are void.

“That is not alarmism, that is cause for alarm. Congress must continue the appropriations rider authored by Rep. Sean Duffy denying funds to the Commerce Department to transition this authority to a private entity such as ICANN. Anything else is leaving it up to chance, and eventually, China, Russia, or who knows overseas to eventually capture this function. This will be an unregulated global monopoly as opposed to a U.S. government vendor, and merely modifying ICANN’s mission statement will not be a legally binding mechanism to uphold the freedom of speech and of the press.

“While outgoing ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade said some of the right things at the meeting, other things that were mentioned such as a ‘voluntary framework to handle contractual obligations regarding content,’ with or without ‘teeth’ are troubling and just add more proof that the transition should not occur. ICANN clearly is under pressure to get into the business of policing content. Congress can just make this really easy for them and just say no to the transition — again.”

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.