Vernuccio’s View: Obama Internet Transfer Challenged

Frank Vernuccio

Frank Vernuccio

Obama Internet Transfer Challenged

Frank V. Vernuccio, Jr., Esq.

A key battle in this most significant free speech fight in decades will take place on September 14, as the Senate Subcommittee on “Oversight Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts” convenes a hearing on the potential watershed moment.

According to a release  by the Subcommittee, “The hearing will investigate the possible dangers of the Obama administration’s proposal to relinquish oversight of the Internet to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), scheduled to take place on October 1. ICANN is a global organization consisting of 162 countries, including authoritarian regimes such as China, Russia, and Iran, which do not have a First Amendment right to free speech.”

The hearing is designed to investigate the possible dangers of the Obama administration’s proposal to relinquish oversight of the Internet to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), scheduled to take place on October 1. ICANN is a global organization consisting of 162 countries, including authoritarian regimes such as China, Russia, and Iran, which do not have a First Amendment right to free speech.

The Administration seeks to make its move final by October 1.  There has been no explanation from the White House about the significance of that date, just as there has been no explanation for the reasons for the move at all.

Opponents are engaging in urgent attempts to stop the move. A  website  outlines their concerns: “The Obama administration is pushing through a radical proposal to take control of Internet domains …If that proposal goes through, countries like Russia, China, and Iran could be able to censor speech on the Internet, including here in the U.S. by blocking access to sites they don’t like. Right now, the Obama administration’s proposal to give away the Internet is an extraordinary threat to our freedom and it’s one that many Americans don’t know anything about.”

Critics of the President’s move note that the White House lacks the funding authority to make the transition. Politico reports that Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), chair of the Commerce Committee, will seek to delay Obama’s internet plans through the upcoming continuing budget resolution.

As noted in a Washington Examiner   interview, “Congress has passed legislation to prohibit the federal government from using tax dollars to allow the transition, and pointed out that the feds are constitutionally prohibited from transferring federal property without approval from Congress.”

Numerous organizations advocating free speech and adherence to Constitutional restrictions on presidential spending actions have signed off on a letter to Congressional leaders urging opposition to Obama’s action:

“We write to urge Congress to defend its Power of the Purse—and Internet freedom.

“Our Constitution rests on the idea that the “Power of the Purse” belongs to Congress, not the President … the Administration appears determined to violate clear appropriations prohibiting the transition of the Internet domain system without authorization. If the Administration does not relent, Congress should sue. Congress twice enacted appropriations riders prohibiting any use of taxpayer funds “to relinquish the responsibility of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration [NTIA… This ‘Transition’ would end the U.S. government’s historic role as a guarantor of Internet governance.”

“…Members of both parties should be able to unite around defending the Power of the Purse, the most fundamental Constitutional power of the American People’s elected representatives. If enacted legislation is no longer considered binding, a fundamental check on Executive power will have been lost. Legislators also have a solemn responsibility to future generations to ensure that the future of the Internet is not placed at risk by prematurely ending U.S. oversight…”

Frank V. Vernuccio, Jr., J.D. is the editor-in-chief of the New York Analysis of Policy & Government and the co-host of the popular WVOX weekly radio show, “And Nothing But The Truth.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Article: