Obama Administration Denies ‘Abandoning the Internet’

An official argued that other governments won’t be allowed to seize power.

Press Conference by the U.S. Delegation to the World Radiocommunication Conference. Assistant Secretary Lawrence Strickling, U.S. Department of Commerce.
National Journal
Brendan Sasso
March 19, 2014, 8:34 a.m.

A top Com­merce De­part­ment of­fi­cial pushed back Wed­nes­day against con­cerns that the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is open­ing the door to an In­ter­net takeover by Rus­sia, China, and oth­er au­thor­it­ari­an re­gimes.

The fears stem from the Com­merce De­part­ment’s an­nounce­ment last Fri­day that it plans to give the In­ter­net Cor­por­a­tion for As­signed Names and Num­bers, an in­ter­na­tion­al non­profit group, con­trol over the tech­nic­al sys­tem that al­lows com­puters to con­nect to Web ad­dresses.

“Our an­nounce­ment has led to some mis­un­der­stand­ing about our plan, with some in­di­vidu­als rais­ing con­cern that the U.S. gov­ern­ment is abandon­ing the In­ter­net. Noth­ing could be fur­ther from the truth,” Lawrence Strick­ling, the as­sist­ant Com­merce sec­ret­ary for com­mu­nic­a­tions and in­form­a­tion, said in a state­ment. “This an­nounce­ment in no way di­min­ishes our com­mit­ment to pre­serving the In­ter­net as an en­gine for eco­nom­ic growth and in­nov­a­tion.”

He said the U.S. gov­ern­ment will con­tin­ue to push IC­ANN to ad­opt po­lices that are in the in­terest of the United States and an open In­ter­net.

The trans­ition to full IC­ANN con­trol of the In­ter­net’s ad­dress sys­tem won’t hap­pen un­til Oc­to­ber 2015, and even then, there likely won’t be any sud­den changes. IC­ANN was already man­aging the sys­tem un­der a con­tract from the Com­merce De­part­ment.

But hav­ing the ul­ti­mate au­thor­ity over the do­main-name sys­tem was the most im­port­ant lever­age the United States had in de­bates over the op­er­a­tion of the In­ter­net. It was a trump card the U.S. could play if it wanted to veto an IC­ANN de­cision or fend off an in­ter­na­tion­al at­tack on In­ter­net free­dom.

Some have ex­pressed con­cern that giv­ing up that lever­age could al­low au­thor­it­ari­an gov­ern­ments or the United Na­tions to pres­sure IC­ANN to cen­sor on­line con­tent. For ex­ample, Rep. Mar­sha Black­burn, a Ten­ness­ee Re­pub­lic­an, called the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s an­nounce­ment a “hos­tile step” against free speech.

“Giv­ing up con­trol of IC­ANN will al­low coun­tries like China and Rus­sia that don’t place the same value in free­dom of speech to bet­ter define how the In­ter­net looks and op­er­ates,” she said in a state­ment on Monday.

The House En­ergy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee will hold a hear­ing on the plan next month and has prom­ised “ag­gress­ive over­sight.” In a joint state­ment, Com­mit­tee Chair­man Fred Up­ton and Tech­no­logy Sub­com­mit­tee Chair­man Greg Walden said that any changes to In­ter­net gov­ernance should “be ap­proached with a cau­tious and care­ful eye.”

But Strick­ling noted that the Na­tion­al Tele­com­mu­nic­a­tions and In­form­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion, a Com­merce De­part­ment agency that he heads, will need to sign off on IC­ANN’s pro­pos­al for man­aging the In­ter­net ad­dress sys­tem.

“We have been clear throughout this pro­cess that any trans­ition plan must meet the con­di­tions of sup­port­ing the multistake­hold­er pro­cess and pro­tect­ing the se­cur­ity, sta­bil­ity and re­si­li­ency of the In­ter­net,” Strick­ling said. “I have em­phas­ized that we will not ac­cept a pro­pos­al that re­places NTIA’s role with a gov­ern­ment-led or an in­ter­gov­ern­ment­al solu­tion. Un­til the com­munity comes to­geth­er on a pro­pos­al that meets these con­di­tions, we will con­tin­ue to per­form our cur­rent stew­ard­ship role.”

Strick­ling also poin­ted to sup­port­ive state­ments from Demo­crats in­clud­ing Sen­ate Com­merce Com­mit­tee Chair­man Jay Rock­e­feller and Rep. Anna Eshoo, as well as Re­pub­lic­an Sens. Marco Ru­bio and John Thune. AT&T, Ve­r­i­zon, Cisco, Mi­crosoft, and Google have also en­dorsed the move.

The U.S. gov­ern­ment has long sup­por­ted the “multistake­hold­er” mod­el for In­ter­net gov­ernance in which busi­nesses, ad­vocacy groups, and gov­ern­ments come to­geth­er to make de­cisions. But be­cause the In­ter­net was in­ven­ted in the United States, this coun­try has his­tor­ic­ally had a cent­ral role in its man­age­ment. As the In­ter­net has grown, oth­er coun­tries have de­man­ded a great­er voice in de­cision-mak­ing. Ed­ward Snowden’s leaks about U.S. sur­veil­lance have only in­tens­i­fied the in­ter­na­tion­al pres­sure on the United States to re­lin­quish its power.

What We're Following See More »
BACKING OUT ON BERNIE
Trump Won’t Debate Sanders After All
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

Trump, in a statement: “Based on the fact that the Democratic nominating process is totally rigged and Crooked Hillary Clinton and Deborah Wasserman Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win, and now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher. ... I will wait to debate the first place finisher in the Democratic Party, probably Crooked Hillary Clinton, or whoever it may be.”

TAKATA RECALLS COULD TAKE YEARS TO COMPLETE
Airbag Recalls Target 12 Million Automobiles
5 hours ago
THE LATEST

"The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration identified on Friday the makes and models of 12 million cars and motorcycles that have been recalled because of defective air bag inflators made by Japanese supplier Takata. The action includes 4.3 million Chryslers; 4.5 million Hondas; 1.6 million Toyotas; 731,000 Mazdas; 402,000 Nissans; 383,000 Subarus; 38,000 Mitsubishis; and 2,800 Ferraris. ... Analysts have said it could take years for all of the air bags to be replaced. Some have questioned whether Takata can survive the latest blow."

Source:
INVESTIGATION LEADS TO LEAKER’S RESIGNATION
Secret Service Disciplines 41 Agents Over Chaffetz Leak
6 hours ago
THE LATEST

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says 41 Secret Service agents have been disciplined in the fallout of an investigation over the agency's leak of personnel files. The leaker, who has resigned, released records showing that Oversight and Government Reform Chair Jason Chaffetz—who was leading an investigation of Secret Service security lapses—had applied for a job at the agency years before. The punishments include reprimands and suspension without pay. "Like many others I was appalled by the episode reflected in the Inspector General’s report, which brought real discredit to the Secret Service," said Johnson.

Source:
#NEVERTRUMP’S LONELY LEADER
Romney Talks Cost of His Futile Anti-Trump Fight
7 hours ago
THE LATEST

Mitt Romney spoke in an interview with the Wall Street Journal about his decision to challenge Donald Trump. “Friends warned me, ‘Don’t speak out, stay out of the fray,’ because criticizing Mr. Trump will only help him by giving him someone else to attack. They were right. I became his next target, and the incoming attacks have been constant and brutal.” Still, "I wanted my grandkids to see that I simply couldn’t ignore what Mr. Trump was saying and doing, which revealed a character and temperament unfit for the leader of the free world.”

Source:
CONGRESS DIVIDED ON DEBT CRISIS PLAN
Puerto Rico Relief Stalled on the Hill
8 hours ago
THE LATEST

"A bill to help Puerto Rico handle its $70 billion debt crisis is facing an uncertain future in the Senate. No Senate Democrats have endorsed a bill backed by House Speaker Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, while some are actively fighting it. ... On the Republican side, senators say they’re hopeful to pass a bill but don’t know if they can support the current legislation — which is expected to win House approval given its backing from leaders in that chamber."

Source:
×