States Lose Fight to Stop Obama’s Unilateral ‘Give-Away’ of Internet

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Attorneys general for the states of Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma, and Nevada, have been denied their request to stop President Obama’s unilateral “give-away” of the Internet.

A federal judge in Galveston, Texas, U.S. District Court Judge George Hanks, Jr., an Obama nominee, denied the plaintiff State’s request for a preliminary injunction Friday evening.

As reported by Breitbart Texas, attorneys general for the four states filed a lawsuit in Texas on Wednesday evening to stop the Obama Administration from giving control of the Internet to an international organization that lists several authoritarian regimes as advisers on its board. The complaint asked for declaratory and injunctive relief.

ICANN has always been overseen by the U.S. Commerce Department but the federal government’s contract with ICANN was set to expire on Friday, September 30. The attorneys general of these states urged that the “proposed actions are unlawful and should be temporarily restrained and enjoined.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was joined by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, and Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt. The lawsuit was filed in Texas in U.S. District Court Southern District of Texas, Galveston Division. Named in the lawsuit as defendants were: the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA); the United States of America; the United States Department of Commerce; the Secretary of Commerce; and the Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information.

The federal government’s goal was to abandon NTIA’s option rights under its contract with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (“ICANN), cancel its cooperative agreement with Verisign, Inc., and delegate its authority to approve changes to the Internet’s root zone file.

Texas Attorney General spokesman Marc Rylander said, “We’re disappointed with the ruling. It’s a dire day in our country when the President is allowed to unilaterally give away America’s pioneering role in ensuring that the internet remains a place where free expression can flourish.  We will continue to weigh our options as the suit moves forward.”

The federal lawsuit argued that the Internet hand-over “violates the Property Clause of the U.S. Constitution by giving away government property without congressional authorization.”  The attorneys general filed the lawsuit after Congress failed to act to stop the planned turn-over.

When the lawsuit was filed, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said, “Trusting authoritarian regimes to ensure the continued freedom of the Internet is lunacy. The president does not have the authority to simply give away America’s pioneering role in ensuring that the Internet remains a place where free expression can flourish.” Arizona AG Mark Brnovich told Breitbart Texas that it was unfortunate that Congress had not addressed the issue.

The Arizona AG said that the First Amendment was in jeopardy and noted that other countries may resent our nation’s constitutional liberties. He warned, “I am very concerned that they will no longer be guaranteed.” He said other countries and “authoritarian regimes” “unfortunately, do not share our view.”

Breitbart News reported that Obama’s move to hand-over control of Internet domains would give interests in China, Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and North Korea an ability to have authoritarian control over online speech. Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are said to be at risk. The Chinese government banned online news reporting and bloggers who criticize the government can be charged with a crime; even posts on social media are limited. It was reported that Russia and China are said to be working together towards the goal of more censorship of the Internet. Turkey has an outright ban on social media and it is a crime to insult the president. Public flogging and jail sentences are used in Saudi Arabia to punish those who offend the government. The article also reports that Turkey is often seen as the world leader in blocking Twitter accounts and Saudi Arabia has about 400,000 websites blocked. North Korea’s “Internet” is essentially only for government propaganda and surveillance.

Facebook, Google, Twitter, have all urged Congress to support the cede of control by the U.S. government of the Internet’s technical management to the global community, as reported by Breitbart News and Reuters.

Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as a prosecutor and associate judge in Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2.


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