The Obama administration is beginning to transition control of the Internet away from the United States—and that has us worried. Former President Bill Clinton and The Washington Post’s editorial board aren’t so thrilled, either.
Last week, Heritage experts warned that the Department of Commerce giving up oversight of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) could open the door to nations that don’t value an open and free Internet.
“A lot of people … have been trying to take this authority from the U.S. for the sole purpose of cracking down on Internet freedom and limiting it and having governments protect their backsides instead of empowering their people,” Clinton said at a panel over the weekend.
The Post’s editorial chimed in: “The reality is that there are dangers to the transition, and U.S. officials must be clear that they won’t relinquish their authorities until and unless it’s clear that a free, functional Internet will be the result.”
That’s basically what Heritage experts said—that the U.S. should make it clear “that it will maintain its governance role over ICANN if the successor proposal endangers the openness and freedom of the Internet.”
Pressure from international organizations is focused on ensuring that countries—many opposed to a free and open Internet—have an outsized influence in whatever “multi-stakeholder” model assumes governance of the Internet. Clinton summed it up: “I just know that a lot of these so-called multi-stakeholders are really governments that want to gag people and restrict access to the Internet.”