Oversight of the Internet, including the selection of website domain names and other aspects of Internet content, has now been turned over by the U.S. Department of Commerce to an international, U.N.-like organization known as ICANN.
It was Obama’s idea, and it was done without Congressional authorization. It’s just one more example of Obama’s post-Constitutional, tyrannical one-man-show approach to his presidency. The law is Obama’s will, and that’s the end of it.
On Wednesday, the attorneys general of Arizona, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Texas filed a lawsuit to block the turnover. But a federal judge in the Southern District of Texas denied that request for a temporary restraining order.
The issue is complicated. However, one thing is clear: The Internet should be viewed as private property. It does not belong to the United States government, and it does not belong to ICANN. Private property and free speech rights fare best under the United States Constitution, even today, which is why oversight should have remained in the hands of the United States.
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and other critics had argued the transfer could lead to authoritarian countries taking control of the Internet and eventually censoring content throughout the world. We will find out soon enough.
"Imagine an Internet run like many Middle Eastern countries that punish what they deem to be blasphemy," Cruz said at a congressional hearing on September 14. "Or imagine an Internet run like China or Russia that punish and incarcerate those who engage in political dissent."
If there’s to be any kind of Internet oversight at all, which would you prefer: Oversight by the U.S. Department of Commerce, or oversight by a coalition of authoritarian countries where Iran, China and Russia are given equal say? The answer is obvious, at least if you care about freedom of speech, a right protected (at least so far) only in the United States.
We can only conclude one of two things about Obama’s intense desire to make this change. One, he does not think there’s any difference between the United States and other nations whose governments openly and gleefully hinder freedom of speech.
And/or two, he thinks these other countries are actually better than the United States.
One thing is certain. If Obama thought the U.S.' approach to freedom of speech embodied by the First Amendment were superior, he’d say so, and he’d never have let this happen — much less have pushed it through in spite of congressional objection.
When Ronald Reagan’s presidency was in its waning months, Reagan repealed the so-called Fairness Doctrine, which at the time prevented radio stations from airing opinionated talk radio shows. This spawned conservative talk radio as we know it, starting with Rush Limbaugh. The political/media landscape was never the same after that.
While opponents of conservative talk radio and media naturally wish Reagan had never taken this step, it expanded free speech rather than restraining it. It was consistent with the Constitution, and represented a movement in the direction of liberty, with media (in this case radio) being treated as private property.
Now, in the waning months of Obama’s presidency, this president has done just the opposite. He has set liberty back and delivered the lowest blow yet to Internet freedom. He has used the powers of a soft dictatorship (aka, his presidency) to implement his U.N.-like view of what freedom of speech should be.
Instead of individuals having equal rights under the law to trade, establish domain names or provide other content on the Internet, we have transferred that oversight and control to authoritarian and dictatorial nations.
Even if the move turns out to only be symbolic, as its supporters are quick to claim, what does this action symbolize? The message could not be clearer: When Obama stated at the start of his presidency that the U.S. is not exceptional, he meant it.
The First Amendment and other Constitutional liberties couldn’t matter less to this president— not when they get in the way of his agenda. Obama came to office determined to cut America down a notch, and his efforts in doing so have been consistent and relentless.
Michael J. Hurd, Ph.D., LCSW is a psychotherapist and author with a private practice in coastal Delaware. He is the author of “Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (and How to Tell the Difference).” For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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