The United Nations may soon take control of the Internet after the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) stops being controlled by the U.S. government this October.
Despite the Obama administration promising that the U.N. would never take control of the Internet, they admitted via a recent Freedom of Information Act request that control of the Internet will most likely pass to the United Nations International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
While the administration and its defenders have denied that the UN will have authority over ICANN, the Wall Street Journal‘s L. Gordon Crovitz points out that ICANN will need to be run by a state agency in order to retain its antitrust exemption, which makes it almost certainly that the UN will step in to take control.
It’s shocking the administration admits it has no plan for how Icann retains its antitrust exemption. The reason Icann can operate the entire World Wide Web root zone is that it has the status of a legal monopolist, stemming from its contract with the Commerce Department that makes Icann an “instrumentality” of government.
Without the U.S. contract, Icann would seek to be overseen by another governmental group so as to keep its antitrust exemption. Authoritarian regimes have already proposed Icann become part of the U.N. to make it easier for them to censor the internet globally. So much for the Obama pledge that the U.S. would never be replaced by a “government-led or an inter-governmental organization solution.”
UN control would almost certainly allow tyrannical regimes some degree of control over Americans’ Internet use.
Congress can still act to prevent the transfer: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) have introduced the Protecting Internet Freedom Act, which would prevent the transfer of ICANN without Congressional approval.