Cruz Ramps Up Opposition to Internet Transition

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By Alexis Kramer

Aug. 31 —Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz launched a micro-site Aug. 31 calling on Congress to stop the U.S. Commerce Department from ceding oversight of technical internet functions—a plan he says would open the door to foreign censorship.

Cruz is trying to draw attention to what he believes is at stake if and when the Commerce Department allows its contract with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the nonprofit entity that coordinates the domain name system, to expire Sept. 30 as planned. He argues the move would empower governments such as China and Russia that want to censor online content. Cruz wants Congress to act next month.

“Sen. Cruz intends to use this countdown clock as a minute-by-minute reminder that time is running out, and that Congress must act before September 30 to protect freedom of speech on the internet,” Cruz spokesman Phil Novack told Bloomberg BNA in an e-mail.

A spokeswoman for the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications & Information Administration told Bloomberg BNA in an e-mail that “completing the IANA transition will help ensure the internet remains a free and open engine for economic growth, innovation and free expression by making sure that the internet stakeholders—not governments—make decisions about the technical underpinnings of the internet.”

An ICANN spokesman declined to comment.

Legislation Pending

Cruz introduced legislation, the Protecting Internet Freedom Act (S. 3034), in June that would prevent the Commerce Department from carrying out the transition (21 ECLR 954, 6/15/16). Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) introduced an identical bill (H.R. 5418) in the House. Neither bill has advanced.

The Commerce Department June 9 approved a proposal to step away from its contract with ICANN, which manages changes to the naming, numbering and protocols conventions that allow the internet to function (21 ECLR 937, 6/15/16). ICANN announced Aug. 12 that it was ready to proceed with the plan (21 ECLR 32, 8/17/16).

To contact the reporter on this story: Alexis Kramer in Washington at akramer@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Keith Perine at kperine@bna.com

For More Information

The micro-site can be found at https://www.cruz.senate.gov/internetcountdownclock/.

The text of S. 3034, as introduced in the Senate, is available at http://src.bna.com/ia6.

The text of H.R. 5418, as introduced in the House, is available at http://src.bna.com/ia7.

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