Bob Barr

At the moment, America’s role in managing the Internet’s domain administration is accomplished through a nonprofit entity known as "ICANN," the acronym for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, through which the Commerce Department contracts to handle these vitally important responsibilities. Because of the highly sensitive nature of ICANN’s work, the U.S. government has pledged to limit its role to oversight only. The intentional use of ICANN, a non-government organization, as a government contractor has, according to the Electronic Freedom Foundation, "always guaranteed free speech and due process, since it has been done by U.S. Government contractors who are required to follow the U.S. Constitution."

It may strike observers as a contradiction to consider the federal government as the best guardian of Internet freedom, in light of what we know now about the massive domestic and international surveillance activities being conducted by the NSA and other agencies. This is a situation, however, in which the U.S. government, even with its well-known penchant for snooping, is by far the best entity to serve as global gatekeeper to the Internet – if the goal is to maintain its universal accessibility. That goal is now in real danger as a result of Obama’s decision.

If Congress fails to step in and halt both the well-advanced erosion of Americans’ fundamental right to privacy and this ill-advised (and dangerous) move to surrender control of the Internet to other nations and international bodies such as the U.N., Internet freedom as we have come to know it, will effectively cease to exist.

Stopping Obama, however, will take a degree of citizen involvement and congressional courage not often seen in modern times.

Congress has failed repeatedly in its responsibility to rein in an Administration that repeatedly has shown its utter disdain for constitutionally-based governance. Obama’s decision to transition control of the Internet’s framework to a "global multistakeholder community," is consistent with this Administration’s track record for its own systemic abuse of internet privacy. The move also is in line with the President’s personal worldview of a global community in which our interests are protected not by our national strength, but by the collective interests of all nations.

Bureaucrats at the United Nations -- which for years have eyed control of the Internet as a way to dramatically enhance their own power and prestige – must be jumping for joy as Obama uses the power of his position as our President to facilitate this UN power grab. The rest of us -- including freedom fighters in countries around the globe – must recognize this as an unbridled assault on free speech and worldwide innovation, and fight it every way possible.

Bob Barr

Bob Barr represented Georgia’s 7th district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 -2003 and as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia from 1986-1990.