Obama Surrenders the Internet

Posted on September 1, 2016

Tags: obama net neutrality internet privacy censorship icann united nations

We are accustomed with the idea that the web is free and many times we just take that for granted. Soon, our internet freedoms may be a thing of the past. Since Obamas administration term is due to end, he wants to set his mark by doing one last major thing. On October 1st, the US will surrender the oversight of the internet - Ending the free speech which was protected by the US constitution.

According to Lawrence E Strickling from the NTIA, it seems that ICANNs oversight will be taken over by a dedicated international body rather than an American institution.
ICANN was formed in 1998 and they have been tasked with the administration of global IP and DNS addresses. Changing the oversight from a national to international institution might not seem like a great deal at first, but it does bring forth a unique set of challenges for the US and the government as a whole.

Once Obama will offer control over ICANN to the UN or any other chosen institution, the former will have to communicate all changes and information to that particular institution. This is obviously a great problem, because national security related issues can leak this way not to mention all the other repercussions similar to this. As you can expect, the American population and many companies are fierce when it comes down to it. The reason is simple, the US wants the web to be an international property, governed by various institutions with differing values and morals. What could go wrong.

The internet has been the bastion of free speech ever since its concoction. This did not happen by chance. The reason behind this is that ICANN is controlled by the United States, which protects freedom of speech under in its Constitution. By surrendering control over ICANN the US will be offering countries like China and Russia to censor the web and even control it as they see fit. Many of the foreign governments will have something to say when it comes to how they control the internet. People will definitely see more restrictions and sites will start to get analyzed a lot faster. Ted Cruz focused on showing that this is against the belief of having a free internet and he even introduced a bill named the Protecting Internet Freedom Act. We can only hope Donald Trump will follow suit – One thing is for sure, Hillary will not.

This final move on the chess board by the Obama administration is a death blow to free speech and personal freedoms. If we truly want to maintain the internet as it is, having ICANN share info only with the US government is the way to go. Otherwise, we are bound to have many authoritarian regimes that will expand well beyond the regular borders and share their control over the web.

Is there a way to fight this? Many petitions appeared online and even senators have tried to create bills that will eliminate this sort of problem. Obviously, people need to be very vocal about this and they need to work as hard as possible to make the government understand that the internet has to be free. The web is one of the few locations where we can still enjoy freedom of speech and belief, so having it replaced with an authoritarian regime will surely have some major repercussions. We hope that the US transfer of ICANN to an international authority won’t take place in the end but it’s all up to us to ensure that nothing like this will ever happen!