October 1 is D-Day for the start of the international takeover of the Internet, a scheme the Obama administration and the United Nations have been advancing for years. Why are GOP leaders AWOL as President Obama and the United Nations move to transfer critically important jurisdiction over the Internet to an unaccountable UN-aligned monopoly? Why are Ryan and McConnell doing nothing?
On October 1 — which is only hours away — U.S. oversight of the Internet’s domain name system is scheduled to be stripped from the U.S. and transferred to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) designed by global “multistakeholder” activists. Members of Congress, national security experts, military professionals, constitutional authorities, privacy advocates, and human rights activists are warning that this pending transition to “independent” oversight by “the international community” is fraught with danger.
However, as on so many other crucial issues, the Republican-controlled Congress is acting as a rubber stamp for Obama. Although few Americans are aware of the serious threat posed by this impending transition, the UN’s Internet takeover scheme is not something that has sprung upon us recently or ex nihilo; we have been reporting on this growing peril for the past several years (see here and the articles linked below, following this story).
Rick Manning, president of Americans for Limited Government (ALG), yesterday blasted House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for failing even to attempt to block the Internet giveaway, while at the same time caving in to threats of a government shutdown by President Obama and the Democrats if the Republicans didn’t give them all the funding they demanded. One of the key issues was a deal to provide the city of Flint, Michigan, a liberal Democrat stronghold, with $170 million in federal funds for their municipal water supply.
“So, Democrats block the continuing resolution, demand money for the Flint, Mich. water supply,” noted Manning. “House Republicans led by House Speaker Paul Ryan relent and agree to add it to the House water bill after that proposal was defeated in the House Rules Committee, and got nothing in return.”
“Republicans have majorities in both houses of Congress, Democrats were actively demanding extra add-ons for these bills, and they couldn’t even get a rider stopping the irreversible transition of U.S. oversight of the Internet’s domain name system," ALG’s Manning charged. “That, even though the Department of Justice has repeatedly failed to respond to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees on a number of outstanding legal concerns with the Internet transition of U.S. oversight of the domain name system,” he said, referring to the most recent letter from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.).
In their September 21 letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the chairmen raised serious national security concerns and important constitutional matters that the Department of Justice has failed to address, despite repeated requests. The DOJ has failed to address, the chairmen pointed out, “how the transfer will effect free speech and the openness of the Internet, if U.S. control of the .mil and .gov domains will be compromised, if the transfer will open the Internet to undue influence from foreign nations, if the transfer will lead to the improper conveyance of United States government property, or if the transfer affects any existing antitrust immunity and increases the likelihood of significant antitrust litigation.”
ALG’s Rick Manning charges that “these issues risk either creating an unaccountable global Internet monopoly or a potentially fractured domain name system if antitrust does come into play. The transition proposal contemplates neither scenario, and these issues cannot be addressed once the transition occurs on October 1.” (See here for a detailed legal analysis by ALG’s senior editor Robert Romano of the anti-trust issues involved in the transfer.)
The letter by chairmen Grassley and Goodlatte asked Attorney General Lynch to answer “whether or not the administration has the constitutional authority to conduct the IANA transition without the authorization of Congress because of the United States property interests in the root zone file — or other similar components of the Internet that were created and financed by the United States.” The chairmen pointed out that under Article IV, Section 3 of the Constitution, Congress has the exclusive power “to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States.”
On September 26, a stellar coalition of 77 generals, admirals, intelligence experts, cybersecurity professionals, and industry leaders sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Joseph Dunford, calling on them to intervene in opposition to President Obama’s radical plan to jeopardize the security of the Internet, which is vital to national (and global) security.
“As individuals with extensive, first-hand experience with protecting our national security, we write to urge you to intervene in opposition to an imminent action that would, in our judgment, cause profound and irreversible damage to the United States’ vital interests,” the letter states. Of immediate concern, say these national security professionals, “is the prospect that the United States might be transferring to future adversaries a capability that could facilitate, particularly in time of conflict, cyberwarfare against us.” The letter continued, “In the absence of NTIA’s stewardship, we would be unable to be certain about the legitimacy of all IP addresses or whether they have been, in some form or fashion, manipulated, or compromised. Given the reliance of the U.S. military and critical infrastructure on the Internet, we must not allow it to be put needlessly at risk.”
Among the signers of the letter are Adm. James A. “Ace” Lyons, USN (Ret.), former commander-in-chief U.S. Pacific Fleet; Lt. General William “Jerry” Boykin, USA (Ret.), former deputy under secretary of defense for intelligence; Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, USAF (Ret.), former deputy chief of staff, United States Air Force; Hon. Charles E. Allen, former under secretary of the Department of Homeland Security for intelligence and analysis; Lt. Gen. C. E. McKnight, Jr., USA (Ret.), former director, Command and Control Systems for Nuclear Forces, Joint Chiefs of Staff; Dr. Lani Kass, former firector, Air Force Chief of Staff’s Cyber Task Force; Rear Adm. Philip S. Anselmo, USN (Ret.), former director of Command Control Communications Computers and Intelligence (C4I); Rep. Brian Babin (R-Tex.), Chairman, House of Representatives’ Committee on Science Space and Technology Subcommittee; Jody R. Westby, CEO, Global Cyber Risk LLC and former chief administrative officer & counsel, In-Q-Tel.
Considering the Obama administration’s contempt for the Constitution’s system of checks and balances, its record for ignoring Congressional requests and concerns, and President Obama’s penchant for “legislating” by executive order, it is not surprising that the administration has completely ignored these appeals by Congress, as well as military and cybersecurity experts. Nor is it a surprise that the Republican leaders have failed, once again, to fight for America’s vital interests. As ALG’s Manning notes, their failure even to engage Obama on this issue is inexcusable.
“Did they even try?” Manning asks. “Ryan and McConnell have not issued any public statements on the matter, so we must assume they actively agree with surrendering U.S. oversight of the Internet. They didn’t even put up a fight. House and Senate Republicans are not what they say, they are what they do. And what they are doing is allowing President Obama to give away the Internet to the international community, threatening the American people’s vital Internet freedoms. And don’t let any Republican tell you different.”
Last-ditch effort: State Attorneys General sue to block transfer
The clock is ticking and October 1 is only hours away. Yesterday both houses of Congress adjourned for a six-week recess; they are not scheduled to return until November 14, after Election Day. In a last-ditch effort to stop the planned transfer, the attorneys general of four states -- Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma, and Nevada -- filed a lawsuit yesterday in federal district court in Texas. The suit says the four states “seek declaratory and injunctive relief against the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA); the United States of America; the United States Department of Commerce; Penny Pritzker, in her official capacity as Secretary of Commerce; and Lawrence E. Strickling, in his official capacity as Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and Administrator of NTIA.”
“The States each operate multiple websites, including those that use the .gov top-level domain name, to conduct their business and communicate with their citizens,” the complaint states. “Examples of these government websites include www.az.gov, www.Texas.gov, www.Oklahoma.gov, and www.nv.gov. State agencies also maintain .gov websites, such as www.azag.gov. These .gov websites are well-known, established sources of reliable and authoritative information for citizens, and private companies and persons are not allowed to use .gov addresses.”
“Substituting unchecked ICANN oversight in place of NTIA’s current role also exposes Plaintiffs to possible interference in its property interests from foreign governments,” the four-state complaint continues. “ICANN’s transition proposal outlines a distinct role for governments outside the United States as voting participants in a Government Advisory Committee that may send advice directly to ICANN’s Board. This mechanism could result in foreign governments pressuring ICANN over policy matters that will directly affect the property interests of the Plaintiffs.”
The complaint was submitted by Attorney General of Arizona Mark Brnovich, Attorney General of Texas Ken Paxton, Attorney General State of Oklahoma Scott Pruitt, and Attorney General State of Nevada Adam Paul Laxalt. Barring an extraordinary outpouring of public pressure that forces Congress to convene an emergency session, the outcome of this pending court case may be the only thing standing in the way of the transfer.
If you would like to contact your U.S. represenative and senators to express your views about transferring control of the Internet to the ICANN, click here.