Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, after a brutal Republican primary season with a whole lot of name calling and allegations, may have finally found some common ground. According to The Hill, Trump is now siding with Cruz and other House Republicans in speaking out about the Obama administration's plan to relinquish the Department of Commerce's oversight of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
"Donald J. Trump is committed to preserving internet freedom for the American people and citizens all over the world,” Trump campaign senior policy director Stephen Miller said in a statement.
“The Republicans in Congress are admirably leading a fight to save the internet this week, and need all the help the American people can give them to be successful,” he added. “Congress needs to act, or internet freedom will be lost for good, since there will be no way to make it great again once it is lost."
For those not familiar with the particulars, Conservative lawmakers in Congress are leading an effort to block the Obama administration's "internet transition" plans by inserting language into a funding measure that would result in another government shutdown if not passed by September 30th.
ICANN stands for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. ICANN is a California nonprofit that has supervised website domains since 1998, essentially under subcontract from the Commerce Department. Under the Obama transition plan, in October, oversight by the U.S. Commerce Department would end and be replaced by a multi-stakeholder community, which would include the technical community, businesses, civil society and governments.
Opponents of the "internet transition, claim it could give hostile countries power over the internet ecosystem to censor content. On September 8th, Ted Cruz delivered remarks on the Senate floor saying the proposed transition would wreak "irreparable damage not only on our nation, but on free speech across the world" by allowing "countries like Russia, like China, like Iran to be able to censor speech on the Internet, your speech."
“In 22 short days, if Congress fails to act, the Obama administration intends to give away control of the Internet to an international body akin to the United Nations,” Sen. Cruz said. “I rise today to discuss the significant, irreparable damage this proposed Internet giveaway could wreak not only on our nation, but on free speech across the world.”
“The Obama administration is instead pushing through a radical proposal to take control of Internet domain names and instead give it to an international organization, ICANN, that includes 162 foreign countries. And if that proposal goes through, it will empower countries like Russia, like China, like Iran to be able to censor speech on the Internet, your speech. Countries like China, Russia, and Iran are not our friends, and their interests are not our interests.
“Imagine searching the Internet and instead of seeing your standard search results, you see a disclaimer that the information you were searching for is censored. It is not consistent with the standards of this new international body, it does not meet their approval. Now, if you’re in China, that situation could well come with the threat of arrest for daring to merely search for such a thing that didn’t meet the approval of the censors. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen in America, but giving control of the Internet to an international body with Russia, and China, and Iran having power over it could lead to precisely that threat, and it’s going to take Congress acting affirmatively to stop it.
Still, some disagree that ending ICANN oversight would lead to greater censorship by foreign governments. According to comments made to the Washinton Post, Milton Mueller, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology School, says that the transition could actually reduce the censoring power of ICANN.
“Simply ending U.S. approval of root zone file changes does not alter the policymaking process in ways that increase the influence of foreign governments or global corporations. In some respects, the reforms associated with the transition reduce the power of GAC by requiring it to have consensus before it can offer advice."
Isn't it great to see these two getting along so well?