Editor's note: This article is rather technical in parts, but crucial to the Internet freedom that LifeSite and all Internet alternative information resources depend upon. That freedom is increasingly under serious threat. Daniel Sobieski explains the implications of the latest developments on this issue and the dangerous changes that the Obama administration has pushed for.
June 16, 2016 (American Thinker) – Totalitarian governments and those who seek to expand the power and control of government fear the free exchange of information and ideas. The Obama administration is no exception and has long pushed the concept of “net neutrality” which, in the name of giving everyone equal access to the Internet, empowers government to be the traffic cop — in essence putting government toll booths on the information superhighway.
On Thursday, an arm of the Commerce Department, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) decided to turn over total control of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a private non-profit entity which manages important elements of the Internet such as domain naming and IP addresses:
In an announcement Thursday, the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) gave the green light to a plan developed over two years by the internet community to hand control of the critical Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) contract to Californian non-profit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
On the surface, this would appear to be a welcome effort to privatize a former government function, but in reality it relinquishes the U.S. government’s role as the arbiter and guarantor of Internet freedom and turns over full control to a group subject to the anti-freedom impulses of the so-called international community, including the United Nations.
Obama’s fear of Internet freedom and the free flow of information was noted by Investor’s Business Daily when it editorialized in 2014:
We would suggest that it is because Obama has long opposed the free flow of information as a hindrance to his ambitious big-government agenda, an animus that started with diatribes against cable outlets such as Fox News and conservative talk radio.
In a 2010 speech to graduates at Hampton University in Virginia, Obama complained that too much information is a threat to democracy.
“With iPods and iPads and Xboxes and PlayStations — none of which I know how to work — information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a means of emancipation,” he opined.
“All of this is not only putting new pressures on you, it is putting new pressures on our country and on our democracy.”
We said at the time that we disagreed with his views. Dissent, we argued, doesn’t threaten our republic. But free speech restrains the tyrants and socialists who would steal our freedoms. The Internet is the direct descendant of the pamphleteers who energized the American Revolution. This time it’s not the British coming as tyrants, but Obama and the FCC.
ICANN has long had authority over Internet functionality, but under a contract repeatedly awarded to it by the NTIA. This full transfer of Internet control to globalists is part of Obama’s fundamental transformation of America. As Fox News has noted. NTIA Administrator Lawrence Strickling applauded this transfer of Internet control to globalists:
In a July 2012 speech at an Internet governance forum, Strickling discussed giving the “global Internet community” more of a “direct say” in the process, and he said the Obama administration was making a “concerted effort” to expand international participation.l8
Why? The Internet is not broken and there is no need to fix it, much less turn it over to a group subject to the whims of foreign dictatorships and those to whom, like Obama, the free flow of information is considered a threat. Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Sean Duffy have recognized this threat and have introduced the Protecting Internet Freedom Act. As Fox News notes:
On Wednesday, Republican Texas Sen. Cruz and Republican Wisconsin Rep. Sean Duffy introduced legislation to prevent the transfer of functions related to the Internet Domain Name System unless specifically authorized by Congress.
The Protecting Internet Freedom Act also aims to ensure that the U.S. maintains sole ownership of the .gov and .mil top-level domains.
“The Obama administration is months away from deciding whether the United States Government will continue to provide oversight over core functions of the Internet and protect it from authoritarian regimes that view the Internet as a way to increase their influence and suppress freedom of speech,” Cruz said in a statement. “This issue threatens not only our personal liberties, but also our national security. We must act affirmatively to protect the Internet and the amazing engine for economic growth and opportunity the Internet has become, and I urge my colleagues to support this legislation.”
In a press release, the lawmakers suggested the plan would “allow over 160 foreign governments to have increased influence over the management and operation of the Internet.”
In George Orwell’s classic 1984, the control of information and its flow was critical to “Big Brother” maintaining is control over the people and in manipulating their passions. Authoritarian governments and dictators worldwide know that lesson well. Now the Obama administration wants globalists to be the “Big Brother” of the Internet.
The ability to see how others live and the ability to exchange ideas is a catalyst to dissent and unrest. It is the preserver of freedom. The ability to choke off that flow is a necessity for authoritarian governments. That is why the Obama administration so hates outlets like Fox News and talk radio. The Internet and social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have helped fuel democratic movements from our own Tea Party to the Iranian dissidents.
It used to be three networks controlled the information we saw and heard. Thanks to the Internet, talk radio, and cable news, we have access to formerly unheard and suppressed voices. News and commentary no longer has to get past the gatekeepers at CBS, ABC, NBC, the Washington Post, and the New York Times.
The Founding Fathers wisely provided for freedom of speech and of the press as a means of guaranteeing our freedom and our democracy. The Internet is the new free press and an outlet for or free speech. Ted Cruz agrees with the Founders and is fighting to keep globalists and their organizations from controlling and regulating our access to information via the Internet. If Cruz prevails, we will continue to have access to the truth that keeps us free.
Daniel John Sobieski is a free lance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.