Will Censorship Replace Internet Freedom in 2015?

There is a real threat that censorship will replace Internet freedom in 2015.  According to a new piece in The Wall Street Journal and from other articles, we learn the administration has decided to give up control of the Internet in September 2015.  Is it possible that foreign governments, authoritative governments, will be able to censor American websites as well as their own websites?  Will Americans lose their Freedom of Speech on the Internet?  Is the First Amendment about to be further damaged and eroded?  How can this happen?  What can be done to prevent it?

First, let’s talk about how the Internet works today.  The Internet functions under the governance of a body known as ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers).  It’s a non-profit organization based in California that operates under a contract with the Federal Government.  Its purpose and function is to oversee and coordinate the Internet’s domain name system, the name and addressing system that permits communications among computers on the Internet.  Without the system, the Internet might degenerate into digital chaos.

Currently, the Internet operates under ICANN with freedom.  Websites are not required to hold politically correct views or follow repressive government censorship on certain issues.  Domain names and web addresses are managed for better communications and ease of use.  Names and addresses are not allocated for purposes of limiting religious freedom, political freedom, or economic freedom.  ICANN seems to work fairly well as it is.

Enter the administration with its blatant disregard for the freedom of speech and its willingness to ignore the Constitution.  It appears that if the administration does follow through and gives up control of the Internet, control of the Internet will be shared by essentially all governments, many of whom believe in censorship.  It further appears that any government will have veto power over any website originating within its borders OR originating outside its borders.  For example, a website critical of one nation operating inside America might be shut down effectively by that nation through the Internet’s new governing authority rules.

Another big point to consider in this discussion.  The administration does not appear to have Executive authority to give away control of the Internet without Congressional approval.  Only Congress has the power to dispose of government property.  The ICANN contract clearly gives its property benefits to the U. S. Government.

Bottom Line Conclusions -

1. The administration is on a path to give up American control of the Internet to an international body, similar to the United Nations in some respects, in September 2015.  This will be done if the administration does not renew the ICANN contract.

2. Freedom of Speech will probably be limited drastically, if America gives up control of the Internet.  Authoritarian governments will likely censor websites in America and elsewhere around the world.

3. Congress has expressed its will that America should retain control of the Internet.  The administration can’t act unilaterally, without Congressional approval, on  this matter.  It is unconstitutional to do so.

4. America must renew the ICANN contract and retain control of the Internet.

For more information on freedom, how America is losing freedom, and how we can get freedom back, please read my new book: Renewing America and Its Heritage of Freedom: What Freedom-Loving American Can Do to Help.

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