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Internet Freedom

ICANN posts proposal to end US oversight of Internet

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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


Is a Big New Tax Coming to Your Internet Bill?

by Phil Kerpen     •     American Commitment 

Internet Sales TaxSince 1998 it has been prohibited by federal law for states and localities to tax Internet access. This policy, known as the Internet Tax Freedom Act, has been extended three times with broad bipartisan support. But it is set to expire again on November 1, and some Senate Democrats appear willing, this time, to allow it to actually expire if they can’t use it to leverage an unrelated tax issue. It’s a dangerous game that could cost taxpayers billions of dollars and worsen the digital divide by pricing some lower income Americans off of the Internet entirely.

The House, led by Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, passed a bill last month to make the ban on Internet access taxes permanent. Continue reading


We Need Stronger Oversight Of ICANN

by Peter Roff

icannWhoever controls the Internet may control the future of global commerce. As more and more commercial platforms are developed, commerce is moving from Main Street into cyberspace at a rate that will make the Internet the global shopping mall of the future.

This makes Internet governance issues all the more important. Right now most of them are decided by ICANN – the Internet Corporation for Assigned Named and Numbers – a California-based company which the U.S. government – which developed the Internet in the first place – has made responsible for most of the Internet’s essential functions like the creation of new, top level global domain names that will exist alongside such familiar standards as .com, .org, and .edu. Continue reading


Why impose a 1908 “First Sale” Rule on a Modern and Evolving Internet-based Marketplace?

Books CDs DVDs

“Copyright law has historically protected the right of the creator to exclusively distribute their work. This is important because it gives creators the ability to profit from their creation which incentivizes creativity and promotes “the Progress of Science and useful Arts” as contemplated by the Founders in the Constitution.

“In 1908, a limited exception – known as the “first sale doctrine” – was established to a copyright owner’s exclusive right to distribute his work. This exception allowed consumers to sell physical objects that contained copyrighted material. This is why it is legal to resell books, DVDs and CDs. Continue reading


Stop Obama From Surrendering the Internet

The House is trying to block an Obama plan to cede control of the Internet. 

Internet1by Peter Roff

By a vote of 229 to 178, the U.S. House of Representatives Friday moved to block the Obama administration from carrying through with plans to give up control of the Internet to a private corporation originally chartered by the federal government to oversee the domain name system.

Acting on an amendment to the Commerce, State, and Justice appropriations bill offered by Wisconsin Republican Rep. Sean Duffy, the House threw a monkey wrench into plans announced earlier this year by the head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which is part of the Department of Commerce, to end its contractual relationship with ICANN – the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers – that guarantees the U.S. a say in how the global information and communications tool is managed. Continue reading