Sen. Ron Johnson: Obama Making Internet Decisions Is Troubling

Friday, 21 Mar 2014 04:10 PM

By Lisa Barron

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Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin says he is worried about President Barack Obama being in charge of shifting the responsibility for Internet domain names and addresses to the international community.

"We do need to be concerned particularly with President Obama in control of the process. We have to watch that very carefully. It is important to understand that we've been making transitions away from governmental control of the Internet for a number of decades. There really has been a transition away from U.S. governmental authorities into multi-stakeholder organizations that really do have Internet freedom at the core of their mission statement. There's a possibility of doing this the right way. My concern is having President Obama in charge," he told Newsmax TV's John Bachman and J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" Friday.

"You know, we certainly don't want any treaty-based U.N. organization in charge of this process. What we need to do in the Senate and in the House is we've got to hold hearings.

"We need to fully understand exactly what they're trying to do. I certainly will not support any transfer of authority to another governmental type of process, certainly not U.N.-based."

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Johnson, who is a member of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, said that he would not necessarily oppose oversight by a nongovernmental body.

"If we can pull the Internet and make it a totally free forum divorced from any type of government control, I'm not saying that's necessarily a bad thing, but you have to watch very carefully," he explained.

"What I am saying is you need to look at the evidence. We really transitioned a lot of government control on the Internet into these internet types of organizations, you know, the Engineering Task Force, the Internet Architecture Board. That's the way the Internet is being governed today and has worked phenomenally well to date. But again, I'm highly concerned about this administration making this particular transition."

As for what Congress should do to make sure the process is smooth, Johnson said, "We need to hold oversight hearings so that everybody understands exactly what the current structure is of the Internet. Again, so much of the Internet already is being governed by these international organizations. It's not government organizations, it's organizations set up specifically to maintain the Internet as a free flowing piece of information, free of all government type control."

He continued, "What happened with the International Telecom Union convention a couple of years ago, that was an effort on the parts of Russia and China and what you're talking about of getting governmental, international government control of the Internet. That is where we have to be ever vigilant not to allow it to happen."

Asked about Obamacare architect Ezekiel Emanuel's remarks in a recent New York Times interview, in which he said that employer-sponsored health insurance will fall below 20 percent by 2025, Johnson replied, "I'm shocked at Dr. Emanuel making the statement. I've always felt that Obamacare was really just the first step toward a single-payer system, a total government takeover of our healthcare system. There have been so many real people harmed, in contrary to what Harry Reid was saying, you know, calling all those people with those heart-wrenching stories liars. But there have been so many people harmed by 0bamacare.

On the flip side, Johnson predicted that the more bad news there is about Obamacare the higher the chances are of getting rid of the healthcare law.

"I'm actually pretty optimistic that we really can in the end get rid of Obamacare and replace it with the types of reforms that we need in the healthcare market that are going to be more free market reforms and more patient centered types of reforms. I'm just more optimistic today than I was certainly after the November 2012 election. I was really concerned that Obamacare was going to take firm and permanent root," he said.

In January, Johnson filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Green Bay accusing the administration of overreaching its authority by issuing a regulation granting members of Congress and their staff subsidies to pay for health insurance purchased through an Obamacare exchange.

The Department of Justice this week asked a judge to dismiss the suit, but Johnson is not deterred. Basically, all they're doing is challenging my standing. They have a pretty hard time arguing against the merits of my case, this special treatment of members of congress and their staff. So, they're just trying to make sure that this thing never gets in front of a court of law to overturn that very unfair ruling," he maintained.

"We'll respond to it and I just keep my fingers crosses that the judge will grant me standing because I think we have a good case for it. Let the case fall on its own merits. I don’t think the administration can defend the fact that it's changing the law by presidential decree."

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