Today, Senator Ted Cruz and Representative Sean Duffy introduced the “Protecting Internet Freedom Act,” which would prevent the U.S. government from relinquishing oversight of the Internet domain name system without Congressional approval.
In 2014, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the organization responsible for the Internet domain name system, would transition from U.S. oversight to a global multi-stakeholder model. Many critics of the transition, including Senator Cruz, have stated that relinquishing oversight to a global multi-stakeholder model likely will allow repressive foreign governments to impose Internet censorship.
Not only could the global multi-stakeholder model violate First Amendment principles by giving control to repressive foreign governments with a history of Internet censorship, but the transition violates rule of law norms because it bypasses Congressional approval. As proposed, the “Protecting Internet Freedom Act” would prevent the NTIA from furthering this transition, and it would require Congressional approval for any future decisions regarding oversight of the Internet domain name system.It is important that Congress consider legislation like that introduced by Senator Cruz and Representative Duffy as soon as possible!