Even though his presidential campaign is over, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is still leading the fight for liberty in the Senate, as he hammered President Barack Obama on Thursday for allowing the Internet to soon be under foreign jurisdiction.
In a speech on the Senate floor, Cruz slammed Obama’s proposal as “a significant threat to our freedom.”
“From the very first days of the internet, when it was developed here in America, the United States government has maintained its core functions to ensure equal access for everyone with no censorship,” Cruz said. “The government role isn’t to monitor what we say, it isn’t to censor what we say, it is simply to ensure that it works—that when you type in a website, it actually goes to that website and not somewhere else. And yet, that can change.”
Cruz highlighted the fact that at the end of the month, Obama’s proposal will cause the Internet to be under control of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which would likely fall under international jurisdiction and allow “countries like China, Russia, and Iran” to have control over the Internet.
“Imagine searching the internet and instead of seeing your standard search results, you see a disclaimer that the information you were searching for is censored. It is not consistent with the standards of this new international body, it does not meet their approval,” Cruz said. “Now, if you’re in China, that situation could well come with the threat of arrest for daring to merely search for such a thing that didn’t meet the approval of the censors. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen in America, but giving control of the internet to an international body with Russia, and China, and Iran having power over it could lead to precisely that threat, and it’s going to take Congress acting affirmatively to stop it.”
The senator pointed to former ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé, who provided inside information to the Chinese government after he left his position at the organization, which is troubling given China’s hostility to free speech. Additionally, ICANN is already showing signs that they’re considering going under international jurisdiction, further signs of likely censorship under Obama’s proposal
Cruz also pointed out that such a move would undermine national security.
“Congress has received no assurances from the Obama administration that the U.S. government will continue to have exclusive ownership and control of the .gov and .mil top-level domains in perpetuity, which are vital to our national security,” Cruz said. “The Department of Defense, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marines all use the .mil top-level domain. The White House, the CIA, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security all use .gov.”
Cruz continued, “The only assurance ICANN has provided the federal government regarding .gov and .mil is that ICANN will notify the government in the future if it decides to give .gov and .mil to another entity. So if someone is going to the IRS, or what you think is the IRS, and you’re comforted that it’s on a .gov website so that you know it must be safe, you may instead find yourself victims of a foreign scam, a phishing scam, some other means of fraud with no basic protections.”
The senator then addressed those who argue that Obama’s proposal wouldn’t result in censorship, noting that websites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube told the European Union they would suppress “hate speech,” and socially conservative organizations like the Family Research Institute would fall under Human Rights Campaign (HRC)’s definition of hate speech. The HRC “is active within ICANN.”
“We are facing the real possibility of an international body having the ability to censor political speech if it is contrary to the norms they intend to enforce,” Cruz said. “In their view, it is hate to express a view different from whatever the prevailing orthodoxy is being enforced.”
Cruz called on Congress to pass the “Protecting Internet Freedom Act” he co-sponsored with Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) to stop Obama’s proposal before it’s too late, especially since he doesn’t have the authority to do so without Congress’s approval.
“I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to come together, to stand together and ensure that we protect freedom of the internet for generations to come,” Cruz said. “It is not too late to act, and I am encouraged by the leadership of members of both houses of Congress to stand up and protect freedom of the internet going forward.”
For a primer on Obama ceding control of the Internet, read The Daily Wire‘s piece on it here.