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↓ Freedom Centers

Internet Freedom

Voluntary initiative to stop ad-supported piracy

The winners:  consumers, content providers, and advertisersIntellectual Propery Piracy

The losers:  pirates, malware, viruses, and thieves

The internet has been a huge engine for commerce. You can go online to by just about anything and have it delivered to your home. You can also legitimately buy and download music, movies, and television shows from a incredible array of legal services. But where there are legitimate businesses, there are also pirates trying to make a quick buck selling that which they do not own. The truth is they make more than a quick buck — they steal billions every year pirating content belonging to others.

GroupM, a leading global media investment management company, recently announced that they will require all their partners to become certified by the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG), a voluntary initiative by the advertising industry to fight internet piracy of copyrighted material — typically movies, music, and television programing. Many piracy sites make their money from advertisements on their websites. Indeed, the Digital Citizens Alliance conducted a report concluding that piracy sites made over $209 million selling ads in 2014. So the initiative is aimed at stopping advertisements from legitimate companies running on illegitimate pirate sites. By stopping the flow of advertising dollars to the pirate sites, piracy itself will be reduced, thereby incentivizing creativity, innovation, investment, and jobs. Continue reading


Ted Cruz’s Fight to Protect the Open Internet

The Texas senator blocks legislation that could lead to world-wide censorship of the Web.

by L. Gordon Crovitz      •     Wall Street Journal

Sen. Ted Cruz wants to safeguard the open Internet from authoritarian regimes. You’d think that would be an easy position to take, but it’s not. The Texas senator and presidential candidate is bucking the leadership of his Republican Party to push hard against the Obama administration plan to abandon America’s protection of the Internet from political interference.

This became an issue in March 2014, when the Commerce Department announced it would give up its Internet oversight by September 2015. Commerce exercises oversight through its contract with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or Icann, which keeps the engineers and network operators who manage the Internet free from political interference. China, Russia and other authoritarian regimes can censor websites only within their own countries, not globally as they have long desired.

Congress used its budget power to block Commerce from giving up the Icann contract during 2015, which should mean a two-year renewal into the next presidency. The Obama administration ignored that timetable and set the new date of July 2016 to give up control. Meanwhile, no alternative has emerged to protect the open Internet. Continue reading


ICANN submits plan for US to cede control of ICANN

Proposal recommends role played by government be replaced by ICANN itself, an oversight committee and a review process involving many interested parties

The Guardian

icannAn international group of internet experts has released a proposal for how the US can cede oversight of the non-profit that manages the internet’s names and addresses.

The 199-page document follows the US commerce department’s controversial announcement last year that it would transfer its stewardship of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to a global network of interested parties.

The details of how ICANN would run on its own have been eagerly awaited around the world and especially in the US, where some Republican lawmakers have raised concerns that the transition may allow other countries to take control of the internet.

Since 1998, ICANN has held the contract to manage the master database for top-level domain names such as .com and .net and their corresponding numeric addresses. The functions are collectively known as Internet Assigned Names Authority (IANA). Continue reading


ICANN needs to return to its Root(s)

by John Kneuer     •     Washington Times

internet-censorship-ICANNIn a little-noticed corner at the intersection of technology and policy, big changes are underway that could have a profound impact on the Internet as we know it.

Unless government policy makers are careful, the role of the Internet as a global engine of innovation and free expression could be at risk.

As is widely acknowledged—but perhaps not fully appreciated—the Internet began in the 1970s as a U.S. government-funded project to establish an efficient and survivable network of networks that could operate outside of the public-switched telephone network. While today the Internet represents trillions of dollars of infrastructure investments made by global public and private network operators, its functioning still relies on the coordination and execution of four discrete technical functions collectively referred to as the IANA functions. For an admittedly gross over-simplification, think of the IANA functions as a “yellow pages” of sorts, which allows computers to know where and how to direct traffic to its final destination, and to allow human beings to understand these directions by converting computer language (e.g. a series of numbers 123.4.5.67) into recognizable words and letters (e.g. www.icann.org). Continue reading


ICANN posts proposal to end US oversight of Internet

Yahoo

icannThe overseers of the Internet on Monday published a keenly anticipated proposal to step out from under US oversight.
Under the plan, nonprofit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) would create a separate legal entity that would be contracted to handle key technical functions of the online address system.

A “Customer Standing Committee” would monitor performance of what would essentially be an ICANN subsidiary, and a review process involving stake-holders would be put in place.

ICANN would remain based in Southern California, and any major structural or operational changes to the foundation of the Internet’s addressing system would require approval of the nonprofit organization’s board of directors. Continue reading


China Pushes to Rewrite Rules of Global Internet

Officials aim to control online discourse and reduce U.S. influence

by James T. Areddy     •     Wall Street Journal

Internet World Wide WebAs social media helped topple regimes in the Middle East and northern Africa, a senior colonel in the People’s Liberation Army publicly warned that an Internet dominated by the U.S. threatened to overthrow China’s Communist Party.

Ye Zheng and a Chinese researcher, writing in the state-run China Youth Daily, said the Internet represented a new form of global control, and the U.S. was a “shadow” present during some of those popular uprisings. Beijing had better pay attention.

Four years after they sounded that alarm, China is paying a lot of attention. Its government is pushing to rewrite the rules of the global Internet, aiming to draw the world’s largest group of Internet users away from an interconnected global commons and to increasingly run parts of the Internet on China’s terms. Continue reading


Don’t Go Soft on the ICANN Handoff

Congress is wrong to take itself out of the game.internet-censorship-ICANN

by Peter Roff     •    US News & World Report

If, as CQ.com reported Thursday, GOP congressional leaders are suddenly going soft on the issue of the Obama administration’s intention to hand off the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, then someone has gone soft in the head.

The pending transfer, something the administration last year said it would like to see concluded by the end of this year, involves not just the critical operations of the Internet’s technical infrastructure but the values that govern its operations down to the level of the individual user. There is too much at stake to rush the transfer through.

For some time now, the plan has been to turn the responsibility for the Internet over to the world. American ingenuity developed it, American capital resources built it up and out, and American generosity made it possible for every country on Earth to take part in the revolution it spawned, even those countries that have sworn vengeance, jihad, destruction and similar ill-wishes on this, the “land of the free and the home of the brave.”  Continue reading


Intellectual Property Rights are Important to Everyone

Intellectual Property - BrainOr, at least, they SHOULD be! 

Frontiers of Freedom has long been a leader in protecting property rights. Our Constitution provided for property rights for physical property and for intellectual property.  And with good reason. America became the world’s most innovative and economically powerful nation because our Founders grasped the importance of property rights and created a system that incentivized creativity, innovation and the productive use of such property.

Sadly, some foolishly think that property rights are old fashioned or that everything should be free. But these folks miss the point that if new innovations were free, we would see far fewer innovations. That would mean fewer new life sustaining medications, fewer new movies, less new music, and fewer new electronic devices and gadgets.  Imagine if someone argued that food is so important that everyone should be able to get it free and simply walk into grocery stores and restaurants and grab whatever food they want. How long would food be available? How long before grocers and restaurants close down? That’s the point. We need to incentivize the production of the things we want and need and we need to encourage innovation.

For this reason, Frontiers of Freedom was part of a group that sent the following letter to Capitol Hill hoping to highlight the importance of intellectual property rights. Continue reading


Why Is ICANN Hiding The Solution To Its Accountability Problem?

By Peter Roff     •     The Daily Caller

icannThe Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers – once an obscure nonprofit that was ostensibly important just to a handful of tech heads – is now mired in controversy as a result of the Obama administration’s announced intention to put an end to the last vestiges of America’s supervision of the Internet.

This formerly innocuous California corporation, created in the late 1990s by the Clinton administration as part of its efforts to transition the Internet toward commercialization, could suddenly become the only body with the authority to prevent countries like China and Russia from gaining control of the Internet. Given the past inconsistencies of its CEO Fadi Chehade, that’s a risky bet at best. Continue reading


Halfway to Wrecking Internet Freedom

To forestall censorship by authoritarian governments, the White House must renew the Icann contract.

By L. Gordon Crovitz     •     The Wall Street Journal

internet-censorshipWe’re at the midpoint between the Obama administration’s March announcement that it would end U.S. protection of the open Internet and September 2015, when the change is supposed to happen. During this time, there has been no progress finding an alternative for protecting the Internet from authoritarian governments.

That’s no surprise—except to Obama administration officials who apparently never considered how hard it would be to replace U.S. stewardship. Continue reading


Liberals on FEC Move to Regulate Internet Campaigns, Blogs, Drudge

by Paul Bedard     •     Washington Examiner

Internet World Wide WebIn a surprise move late Friday, a key Democrat on the Federal Election Commission called for burdensome new rules on Internet-based campaigning, prompting the Republican chairman to warn that Democrats want to regulate online political sites and even news media like the Drudge Report.

Democratic FEC Vice Chair Ann M. Ravel announced plans to begin the process to win regulations on Internet-based campaigns and videos, currently free from most of the FEC’s rules. “A reexamination of the commission’s approach to the internet and other emerging technologies is long over due,” she said.

The power play followed a deadlocked 3-3 vote on whether an Ohio anti-President Obama Internet campaign featuring two videos violated FEC rules when it did not report its finances or offer a disclosure on the ads. The ads were placed for free on YouTube and were not paid advertising. Continue reading


Policy Backgrounder: Ensuring a Free Internet – ICANN Transition Moving in the Wrong Direction

FOF Policy Backgrounder

by Jared Smith

Overview

When the United States Government announced its intent to forfeit its historical role of providing oversight for the Internet’s Domain Name System (DNS), it did so prematurely – before ensuring that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) would be independent and strong with a clearly limited role. The vague conditions of the transition set forth by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) allow room for the process to be potentially subverted by unfriendly governments or intergovernmental organizations with ulterior motives – or neutered by ICANN itself. As the process moves forward, the United States must require that ICANN be able to ensure its ability to maintain the security, stability, resiliency, and openness of the Internet Domain Name System, while meeting the needs and expectations of global customers and partners of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) and supporting a multi-stakeholder model of governance.  

Background

Since the establishment of ICANN’s contract with the NTIA to manage the backend functions of the Internet in 1998, the United States Federal Government has repeatedly expressed the desire to privatize oversight of the DNS process. However, the privatization of ICANN’s role has routinely been delayed due to ICANN’s inability to perform its proper functions without the guidance of the NTIA.

Since the late 1990s, Presidential Administrations and Congress have supported the NTIA in its goal of ensuring  the Internet’s core functions are controlled by the broad Internet community; the importance of these functions is too great to risk foreign government interference. As the Internet has matured, it has grown in scope and importance. Concerns have been raised regarding the power vacuum the United States’ absence would create. Governments with unfriendly views towards an open Internet – including Russia, China, and even some democracies – have made their intentions and desires to limit critical speech well-known. Were one of these nations able to exert influence over ICANN, they could potentially limit or favor specific domain names based on political affiliations or organization. If a government were successful in limiting free speech on the Internet, it could serve as precedent for limitation of speech and discrimination against minorities in other venues or through mediums. Continue reading


China unrest and the future of the open internet

by Peter Roff    •    Washington Times

internet-censorship-ICANNMany of those watching the pro-democracy demonstrations underway right now in Hong Kong are concerned, appropriately, about the impact they will have on the global march of human freedom.

That we can see the demonstrations at all has a lot to do with the Internet, itself a tool that global pro-democracy movements have successfully used to make the entire world sit up and take notice of what they are trying to accomplish. Authoritarian leaders like China’s Xi Jinping therefore have an unsurprisingly cautious attitude toward the World Wide Web; they understand its open nature and the free flow of words and video pose a very real and constant threat to their power.

That openness is a direct result of the influence of core American values on Internet governance. The Internet was invented by the United States government, which has turned the management of many of its essential functions over to a California-based nonprofit corporation created for that specific purpose called ICANN – the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. Up to now the U.S. connection has insured the values enshrined in the U.S. Constitution shapes the way it operates. Continue reading


If You Like Your Internet, You Can Keep Your Internet. Actually No!

by George Landrith    •    Townhall

internet-censorshipLate one Friday afternoon, the Obama Administration announced its plans to cut the Internet loose from U.S. government oversight, giving control to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a private corporation created by the U.S. to manage the web. Since then both ICANN and the administration have gone to great pains to explain that the change would have little practical effect, be largely benign, and that the current U.S. role would not be taken over by other governments like China, Russia, Iran, or the European Union. Sadly, however, these assurances are the Internet equivalent of “If you like the health insurance plan you have now, you can keep it. Period.”

Most Americans know the Internet won’t improve if dictators from around the world are given a bigger role in its governance. Many countries — even those not run by dictators — have engaged in censorship, silenced dissent, and selectively shut the Internet down for authoritarian political reasons. Continue reading


World Wide Principles for the World Wide Web

by Horace Cooper     •    Politix

Internet GovernanceLast spring the White House announced that it would go forward with an effort to relinquish all American oversight over the operation of the World Wide Web. At the time many critics within the tech community warned that this precipitous decision would have harmful effects – here at home and abroad.

The administration claims that this process is the natural evolution of America’s role in setting up and overseeing the web. But critics predicted that the risks of ending American management of the web’s operation would result in a dramatic change in the operation and accessibility of the Internet.

As the date for this transfer gets closer it is becoming increasingly clear that the critics were right to be alarmed.

ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which by an act of Congress has the primary responsibility for ensuring web stability and uniformity is turning out to be the perhaps the greatest threat to the stability and uniformity of the world wide web. Continue reading