15 September 2016

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz vs ICANN and IANA Transition: Veni, Vidi, Vici?

Sen. Cruz's Opening Statement at Protecting Internet Freedom Subcommittee Hearing, Sept 14:

Video above: US Senator Cruz's Opening Statement at Protecting Internet Freedom Subcommittee Hearing September 14, 2016 (transcript further below). See also on Domain MondoIANA Transition Hearing: Implications of Ending US Oversight of the Internet for the witnesses' (prepared) testimony, and the full hearing video replay link.

Say what you will, it was Subcommittee Chairman Ted Cruz's hearing from beginning to end. He came prepared with charts, even warning NTIA employees, including NTIA's Larry Strickling, that violating the Federal Antideficiency Act could end their careers and incur prison sentences of up to 2 years. At times, it even seemed as if ICANN's former President and CEO Fadi Chehade was on trial in absentia (see photos below).

While it may have been entertaining D.C. drama for some, what effect, if any, it will have on the IANA stewardship transition (scheduled to be complete October 1), is yet to be seen. TheHill.com reports it is not clear just how much support there is for Cruz’s position among Republicans though Senate Commerce Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) was quoted as saying:
"We’re working trying to coordinate with Cruz and others who have concerns about the [IANA] transition ... I think that right now we all want that on September 30 that transition does not occur because we don’t think it’s ready yet. He may have a different endgame than we do, but right now our objective is the same."
Photos from Cruz Senate Subcommittee Hearing Sept 14, 2016 | DomainMondo.com
U.S. Senate Subcommittee Hearing September 14, 2016
Transcript of US Senator Cruz's Opening Statement at Protecting Internet Freedom Subcommittee Hearing September 14, 2016 via YouTube.com:

0:00  the internet is one of the most revolutionary forces ever unleashed on
0:05  the world this transformational technology has changed how we learn how
0:10  we communicate how we do commerce how we live our lives people even meet and get
0:17  married through the internet and of course the internet didn't invent itself
0:23  it wasn't invented by any politicians it was invented by the incredible ingenuity
0:30  of the American people with the financial support of american taxpayers
0:35  in the spirit of freedom and generosity that is the essence of our great nation
0:41  the American people didn't try to keep the internet just for themselves but
0:45  made it available for the benefit of all humanity since the internets inception
0:51  the United States government has stood guard over critical internet functions
0:56  in almost any other country that power could have been used to deny internet
1:01  access to websites that were deemed politically undesirable or unpopular on
1:07  or threatening or simply disfavored by the powers that be but not here not in
1:15  the United States because of the first amendment to our Constitution which
1:19  affords more protection for speech than anywhere else in the world the United
1:24  States government as long as it has authority to oversee the infrastructure
1:30  of the internet has a duty to ensure that no website is denied internet
1:35  access on account of the ideas that espouses under the guardianship of the
1:41  United States and the First Amendment the Internet has become truly an oasis
1:45  of freedom but that could soon change in 16 days without seeking the consent of
1:53  the American people without seeking the consent of Congress the Obama
1:58  administration is stated that it intends to relinquish the government its
2:01  historic guardianship and give it instead to an international body known
2:07  as ICANN
2:07  now what is ICANN
2:10  it is not a democratic body it is a corporation with Byzantine governing
2:16  structure designed to blur the lines of accountability that is run by global
2:21  bureaucrats who are supposedly accountable to the technocrats to
2:26  multinational corporations to governments including some of the most
2:30  oppressive regimes in the world like China Iran and Russia sadly ICANN
2:38  officials have already begun showing extraordinary affinity for China the
2:42  world's worst abusers of Internet freedom
2:45  according to Freedom House and 2015 numerous I can gathering to feature
2:50  Chinese officials responsible for Chinese government censorship and
2:54  propaganda ICANN's recently departed president/ceo Fadi Chehade who shepherded
3:04  the transition plan through the Obama administration made China a central focus
3:10  within ICANN and the future of that organization Mr. Chehade is on record
3:16  saying that quote  ...  "engagement with China is not an option
3:21  if we do not engage with China at every level of our community we frankly lose a
3:27  part of our global legitimacy." It is striking that an organization we are
3:34  being told we should trust with control of the internet believes that legitimacy
3:39  depends upon engaging in a regime that is the world's leading censor on the
3:44  internet silencing speech on the internet and that imprisons democracy
3:50  and human rights advocate and nobel laureate ... not surprisingly Mr.
3:59  Chehade left ICANN after the transition plan was approved to lead a high-level
4:03  working group for wait for it
4:07  China's World Internet Conference
4:11  a conference that was rightly criticized for refusing to let New York Times and
4:16  Washington Post reporters cover it as a result Reporters Without Borders
4:22  demanded a boycott calling China an enemy of the internet and yet we are
4:28  being asked to trust an organization without having our government have the
4:34  authority to protect free speech to trust an organization whose former
4:38  leader who shepherded this plan has gone to associate himself with and stand with
4:44  those who are in the words of reporters without borders the enemy of the
4:49  internet once the government's out of the picture
4:56  First Amendment protections go away the first amendment by its term binds the
5:02  government doesn't bind private individuals that means when I can
5:06  escapes from government authority ICANN can escape from having to worry about
5:11  the First Amendment having to worry about protecting your rights or my
5:14  rights
5:15  imagine an Internet run like one of our large private universities today with
5:25  speech codes and safe zones an internet that determine some terms are too scary
5:33  microaggressions are two troubling we will not allow them to be spoken on the
5:37  Internet
5:37  imagine an Internet run like far too many European countries that punish
5:45  so-called hate speech a notoriously malleable concept that has often
5:52  been used to suppress views disfavored by those in power are imagine an
5:58  Internet run by like many Middle Eastern countries that punish what they deem to
6:05  be blasphemy
6:07  imagine an Internet run like China or Russia that punish and incarcerate those
6:15  who engage in political dissent. Now some will say none of that parade of horrible
6:22  will happen there's nothing to fear here in handing control of the internet to
6:27  this international group of stakeholders this mini-UN well that's what this
6:34  hearing is here to determine--is there something to fear--and i will point out a
6:45  question I think a lot of Americans are asking is: why risk it?
6:50  the internet right now works it's not broken
6:54  what is the problem that is trying to be solved here that's what this hearing is
7:02  about ...

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