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I Didn't Know Obama Owned the Internet

Ray Le Maistre
9/9/2016
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There's no shortage of fun stuff online, as anyone who has seen Pinky the Cat in action will testify.

But while videos of "loveable pets" can be an amusing distraction, they don't hit the mark quite like Senator Ted Cruz, who appears to be auditioning for a slot on Saturday Night Live.

His latest jape is to insist that the Obama administration is proposing to "give away control of the Internet" to ICANN (Internet Corporation for the Assignment of Names and Numbers), which, according the Texas senator, "includes 162 foreign countries," including "enemies" such as Russia, China and Iran. (See Don't Let Obama Give Away the Internet and Congress Has 22 Days to Protect Freedom on the Internet.)

That's a problem for Cruz and his supporters, such as the National Religious Broadcasters group, because currently -- and until Obama's planned "giveaway" at the end of September -- the US is in charge and shouldn't relinquish that responsibility. "From the very first days of the Internet, when it was developed here in America, the United States Government has maintained its core functions to ensure equal access for everyone with no censorship," he states. And if Obama has his way, "it will empower countries like Russia, like China, like Iran to be able to censor speech on the Internet."

Really? Damn right, says Cruz. And those foreigners "are not our friends, and their interests are not our interests."

So what will actually change if Obama gets his beastly way? Well, ICANN, which was set up by the US Dept. of Commerce, is currently responsible for the coordination of its IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) functions, including the distribution of IP addresses and Domain Name System (DNS) root zone management. (You can find out more here.)

It currently does this under contract from the Dept. of Commerce, but after September 30 it will continue to do exactly what it does now but just not under contract from the US government.

So, not really much to worry about, it seems.

But I'd be wrong to assume that, according to Cruz. He's so concerned he has set up a countdown clock to note how long it is until Obama gives the Internet away. You can see that clock right here.

And he has proposed the Protecting Internet Freedom Act, which demands that the contractual arrangement with ICANN/IANA should not be allowed to lapse "unless specifically authorized to do so by an Act of Congress."

Cruz also has some inside gossip to share. Once October comes, according to the Senator, "there are serious indications that ICANN intends to seek to flee U.S. jurisdiction and flee U.S. laws."

Holy sh*t -- ICANN is planning to go on the run!? Could someone strap on a GoPro, follow ICANN and stream its adventures live on the Internet? Or would the Iranians block that stream?

Ted Cruz fears ICANN will do a runner...
Ted Cruz fears ICANN will do a runner...

All of a sudden, wild cats seem funnier.

As an outsider (as in, I am not based in the US and so caught up in the Clinton/Trump noise) it seems pretty obvious that this is nothing more than scaremongering designed to foster anti-Democratic sentiment. Though, to be fair, from what I have seen Cruz doesn't namecheck Clinton in his rants.

And maybe I am wrong, naďve. Maybe Cruz and the Christian broadcast clan are right and our online rights are going to be trampled as ICANN flees to Tehran and hands over controls to the IPv6 party bag.

Let me know below if I'm wrong…

— Ray Le Maistre, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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mendyk
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mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
9/9/2016 | 11:10:01 AM
One less thing to worry about
The good news for Sen. Cruz is that his good friend T. Donald Trump will reduce the number of America's sworn enemies by at least one. This will go down as the era in which Western countries strive to out-crazy one another.
DanJones
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DanJones,
User Rank: Blogger
9/9/2016 | 11:23:17 AM
Re: One less thing to worry about
People ave been saying that Trump will hunt ISIS on the internet with Bill Gates.
mendyk
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mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
9/9/2016 | 11:24:55 AM
Re: One less thing to worry about
He knows the BEST big-game hunters for that job.
DanJones
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DanJones,
User Rank: Blogger
9/9/2016 | 11:47:39 AM
Re: One less thing to worry about
His sons?
mendyk
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mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
9/9/2016 | 11:50:19 AM
Re: One less thing to worry about
To steal a line from another sterling example of American insanity, You betcha.
Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
9/9/2016 | 12:54:53 PM
Interesting analysis and history of ICANN
Who controls the internet? Ted Cruz's fantasy vs. the reality

An in-depth and thorough look at ICANN and its role in Internet governance, which will leave you even more confused than you were before!

Money quote:

"Depending on who you ask, the end of the contract means control of the internet as we know it is going to be lost forever to oppressive governments, is about to continue to be in the hands of a puppetmaster oppressive government, or is about to enter a bold new chapter of governance in which control is truly in the hands of the entire community of internet users around the world. After immersing myself in the acronyms and ancient customs of the internet governance world, I concluded that none of these various forecast futures are entirely correct. However, all of them speak to a public yearning for a narrative in which the internet is and could be easily defined, owned, and controlled."

Also:

"Before the creation of ICANN, in the 1980s and into the 1990s, [the Internat Assigned Numbers Authority] amounted to basically two people: internet history luminaries Jon Postel and Joyce Reynolds, who worked at USC's Information Sciences Institute under contract to DARPA (Postel tends to be lionized in these histories more frequently than Reynolds, in part because his legacy on internet history extends into the earliest beginnings of the ARPANet and the development of core internet and email protocols. But this wouldn't be a tech history story without a sidelined woman behind the scenes! I digress.).

"A popular joke among cynical members of the internet governance community is that ICANN is an ongoing experiment to see just how many lawyers and PR staffers can be employed to carry out a task that used to require just two part-time engineers. And, frankly, it is pretty remarkable that over the course of the past eighteen years, an entity that Postel once referred to in Congressional testimony as a "side task" now requires an apparatus with 357 full-time staffers and offices in 8 countries."
jbtombes
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jbtombes,
User Rank: Light Sabre
9/12/2016 | 9:12:30 AM
Re: Interesting analysis and history of ICANN
Thanks for link to the Fusion piece. More so than the jr. senator from TX, Gordon Crovitz at the WSJ has been beating this drum. Today's column includes points that an unregulated monopoly is worse than a monopoly regulated by the US, and that the Constitution requires congressional approval for sale of govnt. property (the Icann contract is worth $bs). Crovitz is no dummy - Rhodes Scholar, Yale Law, etc. 
Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
9/12/2016 | 10:19:50 AM
Re: Interesting analysis and history of ICANN
There are real issues here, worthy of Congressional oversight. But Ted Cruz is being ridiculous. The United States does not control the Internet, and Obama is not giving it away. 
danielcawrey
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danielcawrey,
User Rank: Light Sabre
9/12/2016 | 5:07:28 PM
Re: Interesting analysis and history of ICANN
This does seem like some kind of plot to distract people away from what has been happening with the presidential election. Shouldn't be surprising either, given the way these candidates have been acting. 
Duh!
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Duh!,
User Rank: Blogger
9/12/2016 | 5:11:16 PM
Re: Interesting analysis and history of ICANN
Crovitz might not be a "dummy" but he is an opinionated ideologue who pontificates about things he neither understands or bothers to research. 
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
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