The Unfathomable Obama Internet Giveaway

President Obama seems intent on undermining American sovereignty. Now he is giving away the internet.

On March 14, 2014, Obama unilaterally declared that he would relinquish control of the Internet to an unspecified foreign entity, effective September 2015. As if it were his to give away. This action indisputably undermines the democratic principle of an open, free, and uncensored Internet. It directly contravenes U.S. national interest.

From infancy to ICANN

The U.S. has developed and equitably protected the Internet, just as the United States has protected freedom of the seas.

The United States invented the Internet under the ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency NETwork) project. The first two-character electronic message was sent in 1969. The internet was initially only available through government and educational institutions until 1992, when it became available to commercial entities.

In 1998, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) was created as a U.S. nonprofit organization chartered to oversee assigning of all domain names world-wide, such as .com, .org, gov., .edu, . etc. It operates under contract with the U.S. Department of Commerce, and foreign governments have input into ICANN's decisions through an oversight body.

At a technical level, ICANN oversees the "root zone file," which contains all domain name and IP address information. ICANN also acts as steward over the Domain Name System (DNS) - the mechanism by which websites are accessed on the internet. In other words, ICANN controls the gateway and address book of the Internet.

ICANN has been criticized by the business community as catering to the industry that sells domain names. Those sales provide ICANN revenue. Unfortunately, giving away ICANN to foreign interests will invite even greater unmitigated abuses that the business community seems loath to comprehend.

The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have affirmed the United States support for a multistakeholder model of Internet governance (through S.Con.Res.50 and H.Con.Res.127). Yet the U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA - part of the U.S. Department of Commerce) has stated that it will not accept a situation where their role is replaced with an inter-governmental organization or a government-led solution.

Therefore, the path seems to lead directly toward U.N. control of the Internet.

Hostile U.N. control of the Internet

When President Carter made the decision in 1978 to give away the Panama Canal - a strategic American asset, it was not immediately evident that the it would fall into hostile hands. With Obama's Internet giveaway, however, we can almost certainly be assured that the it will indeed fall into governance by an agency dominated by those who oppose free speech, openness, and unimpeded commerce.

China and Russia have lobbied strenuously for the United Nation’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU) agency to take over ICANN. They have lobbied to outlaw anonymity on the internet so as to make it easier to identiy dissidents easier. This would have serious repercussions, even in the United States - especially in light of the NSA scandal. Foreign nations have pressed to impose a fee for international access to providers such as Google and Facebook.

Senior State Department official Christian Whiton noted the serious consequences of turning the Internet over to hostile forces:

  • More Internet control over the content of the Internet by governments that regard it as a threat. Freedom of speech would be substantially eroded.
  • Even under today's Internet, Vladimir Putin has censored independent media and critics relating to the Crimea takeover.

    Authoritarian regimes such as Iran, North Korea, China, North Korea, and Russia clearly favor censorship, and it is to be expected that multi-national groups such as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation would also support censorship.

  • Obstruction of technological innovation as antagonistic governments and bureaucracies attempt to dictate how the internet can - and can not - operate.
  • Use of the Internet as an instrument of warfare. The Internet (or parts of it) could be disabled at critical junctures.

    It is important to note that a treaty between countries in the ITU which goes into effect next year will allow governments the express authority to shut off citizens' access to the global Internet!

  • U.N. taxation of domain name registrations and ultimately many other Internet transactions.

From ICANN to "no, you can't"

Unfortunately, last year's Snowden leaks and the recent NSA spying scandal have resulted in a significant international backlash against the United States and the Obama administration.

Although Congress has opposed U.N. Internet control, it appears that Obama is seeking to appease foreign governments with the surrender of a strategic United States asset - which we, as the world's most democratic nation, are uniquely suited to administer.

Once the giveaway is finalized, the U.S. will have no practical authority to enforce internet freedom. Americans inherently recognize this danger. A March 19, 2014 Rasmussen poll revealed that 61 percent of U.S. voters oppose giving up control of the internet.

Dan Jaffe, executive vice president of the Association of National Advertisers warned that "To set ICANN so-called free is a very major step that should done with careful oversight. We would be very concerned about that step."

Esther Dyson, founding chairwoman of ICANN (1998-2000) and Internet expert, stated that U.N. oversight would be a "fate worse than death."

The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) has revealed what is at stake. On the 25th anniversary of the first .com domain name registration, their report revealed that “the annual global economic benefit of the commercial Internet equaled $1.5 trillion, more than the global sales of medicine, investment in renewable energy, and government investment in R&D, combined.”

It should be noted that the Commerce Department general consul stated in 2000 that it had not allocated resources to determine whether legislation would be a prerequisite to transferring the ICANN contract. Thus the good news is that Congress is in a position to derail Obama's ominous giveaway.

If you are concerned about the future of the Internet, let Congress know your immediate concern over this unconscionable giveaway.


The author, Fred Elbel, is an IT professional.


1. "Petiton: Don't Give Away the Net", Center for Security Policy.

2. "Internet Control in an Anti-Free Speech World", Arnold Ahlert, Canada Free Press, March 20, 2014.

3. "NTIA Announces Intent to Transition Key Internet Domain Name Functions", National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), U.S. Commerce Department, March 14, 2014.

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5. "America's Internet Surrender", by L. Gordon Crovitz, Wall Street Journal, March 18, 2014.

6. "61% Oppose U.S. Giving Up Control Over Internet", Rasmussen Reports, March 20, 2014.

7. "Don't Give Away the Internet", by Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., Brietbart March 19, 2014.

8. "The Worst Thing Obama Has Done in Foreign Policy by Far", by Joel B. Pollak, Brietbart, March 19, 2014.

9. "Is the U.S. Government About to Give Away the Internet?", by Daniel Castro, Ideas Lab, March 14, 2014.

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11. "Obama’s Backdoor Censorship of the Internet", by Tim Dunkin, Canada Free Press, March 22, 2014.

12. "Important Work to Be Done Before the U.S. Relinquishes Stewardship of ICANN", by Brett D. Schaefer, James L. Gattuso, Paul Rosenzweig and David Inserra, Heritage Foundation, March 21, 2014.

13. "Who Controls the Internet Address Book? ICANN, NTIA and IANA", by Paul Rosenzweig, LawFare, March 15, 2014.

14. "Preserving Freedom Online: The U.S. Should Reject the U.N.’s Authoritarian Control of the Internet, by David Inserra, Heritage Foundation, December 20, 2013.

15. "The Continuing Struggle for Control of Cyberspace—And The Deterioration of Western InfluenceThe Continuing Struggle for Control of Cyberspace—And The Deterioration of Western Influence", by Paul Rosenzweig, LawFare, January 13, 2014.

16. "Montevideo Statement on the Future of Internet Cooperation", ICANN, October 7, 2013.