Ted Cruz Still Blatantly Misrepresenting Internet Governance Transition

from the let-it-go,-ted dept

Just a few months ago, we wrote up a decently long post explaining why the upcoming “transition” of a piece of internet governance away from the US government was both a good thing and not a big deal. You can read those two posts on it, but the really short version is twofold: (1) the Commerce Department’s “control” over ICANN’s IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) was always pretty much non-existent in the first place; and (2) even having that little connection to the US government, though, only provided tremendous fodder for foreign governments (mainly: Russia & China) to push to take control of the internet themselves. That’s what that whole disastrous UN/ITU/WCIT mess was a few years back. Relinquishing the (non-existent) control, with clear parameters that internet governance wouldn’t then be allowed to jump into the ITU’s lap, helps on basically every point. It takes away a key reason that other countries have used to claim they need more control, and it makes it clear that internet governance needs to remain out of any particular government’s control.

As we noted, this is all a good thing.

But for unclear reasons, Senator Ted Cruz keeps insisting that this “transfer” is about the US giving control over the internet to the UN. He’s ramped up this rhetoric lately as the transition gets closer:

“Today our country faces a threat to the internet as we know it. In 22 short days, if Congress fails to act, the Obama administration intends to give away the internet to an international body akin to the United Nations,” Cruz said in a speech on the Senate floor Thursday. “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.”

Except that’s hogwash. The plan does exactly the opposite. We’ve made this point over and over again, and thankfully others are doing so as well. Fusion has a long and detailed article that highlights that Cruz’s claims are a fantasy and have no basis in reality. It goes through the whole history of IANA (if you don’t know the story of Jon Postel and Joyce Reynolds, and how the two of them basically kept the internet running in their spare time for a few decades, you should…), but then points out that Cruz is just wrong:

To be clear: ICANN has about as much control over the internet as Ted Cruz has a grasp on how DNS actually works?which is to say, very little. But the perpetuation of the fiction that ICANN controls the internet is representative of the completely understandable human impulse to try and assign control of the internet to someone or something, particularly in a time where the systems that shape most users? experience of the internet are increasingly opaque and unaccountable to users.

Saying any one group controls the internet is as absurd as saying who ?controls? capitalism or globalization itself. But everyone has their version of control. Silicon Valley billionaires may insist we surrender to the invisible hand of the network, which simply chooses disruption and convenience over accountability and ethics. For the federal government, it?s far easier to accuse the private sector of being in control and thwarting national security than admit that mass surveillance is an expensive and incompetent tactic. For critics (or those who?d prefer that control be in their hands), it would be far simpler to point at a single oligarch or Bohemian Club or ICANN that needs to be overthrown; it might redeem what today at times seems like a fractal trainwreck of an internet, and somehow bring us back to John Perry Barlow?s never-realized promise of an independent cyberspace.

And it also points out that the biggest “threat” to how internet governance is handled is if Cruz actually succeeds in blocking the transition:

Mostly, when I asked people at ICANN about worst-case scenarios with the transition, they pointed to Ted Cruz?s efforts. The transition not going through?either through a blocking action from this current Congress through some legislative action or Congress just delaying until the next president comes into office?would not only undermine the work that a lot of people have already put into the transition plan, it also would create even further mistrust and frustration among countries like Brazil that continue to be frustrated by US control. Maybe that would be enough to justify a fragmentation of the root zone. Or it could just make it harder for the multistakeholder model to function by undermining trust in the community as a whole, making consensus harder to achieve. Which is kind of to say it could start to look a lot more like the US Congress.

In other words, as we’ve explained before, Ted Cruz’s concerns over the internet here are completely backwards. Up is down, black is white, night is day kind of stuff. Keeping the IANA connection to the US government is the kind of thing that opens up the possibility for Russia/China to exert more control over internet governance by routing around ICANN and its flawed, but better than the alternative, “multistakeholder” setup. Moving ICANN away from the US government, with strict rules in place that basically keep it operating as is, takes away one of the key arguments that foreign countries have been using to try to seize control over key governance aspects of the internet.

If Cruz fears foreign governments taking control of internet governance, he should do the exact opposite of what he’s doing now. Let the Commerce Dept. sever the almost entirely imaginary leash it has on ICANN. Otherwise, other countries’ frustration with the US’s roles is a much bigger actual threat to how the internet is managed.

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Comments on “Ted Cruz Still Blatantly Misrepresenting Internet Governance Transition”

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Anonymous Coward says:


If Cruz fears foreign governments taking control of internet governance, he should do the exact opposite of what he’s doing now. Let the Commerce Dept. sever the almost entirely imaginary leash it has on ICANN. Otherwise, other countries’ frustration with the US’s roles is a much bigger actual threat to how the internet is managed.

I may not have much respect for Cruz but holy shit this is a cocked up bullshit argument. Using this logic America should completely dismantle it’s entire Military out of fear of another country invading us because they are frustrated with us having a military.

If the leash is so damn imaginary then neither will those other nation’s will be all that concerned for the “frustration” that the American government causes. I has been my experience that those government are dead set on fucking shit up regardless of whose fucking hold the “imaginary” leash! DAMN!

Or are you just saying American’s need to roll over as necessary to appease every tom, dick, and dictator to avoid a few hurt government feelings?

Seriously… WTF?

orbitalinsertion (profile) says:

Re: Really?

First off, it isn’t the US government’s to control. Again you don’t even understand what being sort of theoretically in control of ICANN actually controls… which isn’t “the internet”.

And no, it’s more like stop claiming to be doing something you aren’t really doing anyway because the appearance of impropriety emboldens others.* “Rolling over” – you see things only as an authoritarian can. Too bad all the authoritarians just can’t get along, they are all exactly the same.

* For example, pretend we stopped being assholes and murdering people with drone strikes. But 30 years later, we maintain drone bases all over the world, even though we don’t actually fly drones for these purposes or even have drones on the bases. Just a couple of people to sweep the floors. But you would maintain those bases just to provoke other idiots. Good plan!

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Really?

What? Your analogy is TERRIBLE.

“Using this logic America should completely dismantle it’s entire Military out of fear of another country invading us because they are frustrated with us having a military.”

Reasons there is no similarity:
– The US gov’t does not have an imaginary leash in its military. The Commander in Chief and congress can effect swift and important changes in deployment, engagement, organization, and rules.

– Releasing our very, very weak control of the Internet to a neutral party to stave off fragmentation does not open our nation up to invasion.

A better analogy would be control of the ENTIRE Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The USA, with its strong navy, could CLAIM control and all rights to the Oceans. Of course, if we did, other countries and individuals would ignore those claims, and respond with similar stupid claims of their own. Instead, a better choice is to claim and control only near our shores, and allow the oceans to be no country’s actual property, but rather agree to a set of Maritime laws and guidelines for navigation, safety, and resources.

Anonymous Coward says:

Really Mike?

You can’t explain why Ted Cruz would think something totally contrafactual?

Here let me help you:

Ted Cruz is a bigoted buffoon whose belief system overlaps with reality only a little more than Donald Trump’s. In other words, little if at all.

That wasn’t so hard, was it?

(What is it with the Replublicans this year – do they have a death wish? And the same for the Democrats, if it comes to that…).

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Really Mike?

In 2012 the job of Bachmann, Santorum, Paul, Cain and Perry was to stand next to Mitt Romney and make him look like a viable candidate by comparison. Buttressed by Palin and Trump further out.

In 2016 Cruz and the rest were expected to stand next to Jeb! and make him look like a viable candidate by comparison When Jeb! sank without a trace – most of the non-Tea Party superPAC donations going down with the ship – there was no viable alternative.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Really Mike?

I think it’s quite clear that the GOP establishment has taken the base for granted for far too long. Bush threw out red meat in ’04 like saying he’d back a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, and then abandoned it as soon as he got his second term. Then you got McCain picking Palin as his running-mate in ’08 and the Tea Party backlash in ’10.

The Republican establishment spent years riling up voters who support candidates like Cruz and Trump, without ever expecting that it would ultimately be to the establishment’s own detriment.

Of course, part of it was the very weird primary season. Too many candidates splitting the vote, and for all that people expected Jeb to win the nomination, he was a weak choice. He had the best name recognition of anyone in the field besides Trump, but it’s not positive name recognition, and he had the jaw-dropping foolishness to repeatedly praise his brother — who left office with an approval rating around 30% — and say he would seek advice from him as president.

I think Walker probably could have been a stronger candidate, but he had the disadvantage of being nobody’s first choice; all the big donors were lining up behind either Bush or Rubio, with the result that Walker couldn’t bring in enough money to even make it to the primaries.

Rubio’s an excellent scripted speaker, but went down in flames because he can’t go off-script. He might be a contender someday, but he needs a little more time to bake.

All that said, I don’t see Cruz doing nearly as well in the ’20 primaries as he did this time. His second-place finish was a one-off fluke; he’s a guy who everybody hates, even within his own party, and Senator is as far as he’s ever going to get.

But his faction of the party isn’t going to go away. And has been doing incredibly well in state legislatures.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

> The Republican establishment spent years riling up voters who support candidates like Cruz and Trump, without ever expecting that it would ultimately be to the establishment’s own detriment.

I think that some wanted it to be to the party’s detriment. Fox News and NewsMax, created as a wing of the Republican Party – plus WorldNetDaily, created to tell the lies that Fox, NewsMax and Republican politicians wouldn’t dare tell but would cheerfully repeat – have made a discovery: Their best source of revenue is impotent right-wing rage.

Rush Limbaugh’s popularity has been highest – by far – during the Clinton and Obama years. He had to hold back on the anti-government wingnuttery when the Republicans were in charge. The same goes for Glenn Beck, Hannity, WorldNetDaily and the rest who monetize impotent right-wing rage.

It was Fox News that gave the Tea Party it’s voice. But it became far more than that. As Eric Boehlert put it way back in 2009:

Memo to the media: Fox News is now the Opposition Party

Rupert Murdoch’s cable cabal is now, first and foremost, a political entity. Fox News has transformed itself into the Opposition Party of the Obama White House, which, of course, is unprecedented for a media company in modern-day America.
Greenwald noted the similarities between Fox News’ overt role in U.S. politics with places like Venezuela, where the opposition TV station led the failed 2002 coup attempt against Hugo Chavez, as well as Italy, where Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, a media magnate, uses his TV ownership to agitate. “Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch are really using that model to organize and galvanize this protest movement,” wrote Greenwald. “It’s a totally Fox News-sponsored event.”
The protesters do not look to politicians for leadership. They look to niche media figures like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, and their scores of clones behind local and national microphones.

Fox News wants to REMAIN the opposition Party. They don’t want the Republicans in power. The more power the Democrat boogeyman has, the more viewers tune in to Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity and Rivera. Freed from responsibilities of being in office, more prominent Republicans can have segments on Fox shows. Fox News is a gold mine for Rupert Murdoch when the Democrats are in power.

And so to win the Republican nomination you have to display a wingnuttyness that makes you unelectable in a Presidential election. The more Romney or other 2012 candidates tried to be moderates, the more they were painted as “Republican In Name Only.” Even Republican hardliner Newt Gingrich learned this the hard way when he took the non-insane position that some compromise was needed on the budget. Fox News, the Tea Party and the Limbaugh/Beck wingnut fringe came down on him like a ton of bricks. In 2013 those Republicans who supported a budget deal were attacked.

Trump hijacked the party not from the Republican establishment, but from Fox. But that’s OK: If Trump wins he can’t possibly live up to the expectations of the wingnuts. If Hillary wins, so much the better.

Steve Marz says:

Ted Cruzis right Techdirt

Please watch video because ICANN as this video has proven dropped names before especially for gay rights because the Middle East and Russia did not want them. While they kept there IP numbers the webpage names were BANNED including here in America, proven that if ICANN leaves the US are Internet name service will be taken over and BANNED OR CENSOR WEBSITES. WATCH FROM THE NUMBER # 1 cybersecurity expert https://youtu.be/h-2WoWpgo-s

Anonymous Coward says:

ICANN doesn't build networks.

Which is to say, that the use of ICANN by foreign states is voluntary. The idea that the U.S. governs the Internet is a fallacy of composition.

The world ALLOWS, the U.S. to manage some databases, because we have historically been pretty good and not fucking it up. The move towards internationalization has been partly driven by the disrespect shown for these databases by U.S. law enforcement.

This is a consent thing. Not a force thing. We loose the ability to use the small amount of leverage we have, by disrespecting the consent of those we represent. And that is what we have done by using the DNS system in a punitive fashion. (No surprise such a concept is lost on a U.S. congressman)

It is a database. Not a network. It is not expensive to replicate.

The only thing we can do is become more isolated, or more engaged. You can’t enforce control over something that is not within your domain of influence. And attempting to do so is exactly WHY the International community has become more insistent.

IOW: Being a bigger dick, is not going to change the fact, that you are generally already regarded as a dick. And if you want to know how we got there, ask the FBI.

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