An Open Response to "Stop Obama's Internet Giveaway"

By Christian Dawson
Christian Dawson

It seems necessary to publicly address the arguments posed in "Stop Obama's Internet Giveaway” by L. Gordon Crovitz of the Wall Street Journal.

If, as Crovitz suggested, the President were truly "giving away the Internet," there would be mass outrage. After all, the Internet has become a primary driver of global commerce.

Internet users, businesses, civil society members and Internet operators have come together to approve a set of proposals to make the Internet stronger and more open. They are supporting the recent proposal that would transition U.S. stewardship, of some key Internet functions, to the global Internet community.

Contrary to the assertion of Mr. Crovitz, the Internet is not the President's to give away. No one group has ever owned or operated the Internet.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has authority over some key technical functions of that system. Various groups, some with authoritarian interests, have occasionally vied for more control over the Internet and a stronger governmental authority in Internet governance. They propose handing Internet protocol control to a body like the U.N.

NTIA agreed to cede stewardship of these functions under certain conditions, including a limitation of influence by governments. The agency solicited this plan to disarm the threat of government(s) controlling the Internet. The plan announced a few weeks ago does that while also requiring ICANN, the California-based non-profit that manages the function, to enhance its accountability and openness.

Internet experts agree that this transition proposal will protect the free and open Internet from authoritarian regimes and censorship. Contrary to what Mr. Crovitz asserts, maintaining the status quo merely increases the risk this proposal would eliminate.

Congressional opposition would strengthen those who want the U.N. to oversee the Internet. Scaring Congress into voting against the best interests of Internet openness, based on technical misunderstanding, is a shallow political game. The bottom line is the Internet is far too vital for political posturing.

By Christian Dawson, Executive Director, i2Coalition

Related topics: ICANN, Internet Governance

Comments