Texas AG: Relinquishing Internet Control Could Suppress Free Speech

ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, is a California nonprofit which keeps track of millions of websites across the globe.  ICANN’s key function is to coordinate the Internet domain name system.  The nonprofit’s contract with the Commerce Department runs out on September 30, which is significant because whoever controls ICANN has the ability to censor the internet. Concerns are mounting that without U.S. government in control, countries such as China, Russia or Iran could influence the organization and potentially clamp down on free speech.  Hours before the Obama Administration plans to surrender control of ICANN, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton weighed in on the lawsuit filed by his state along with three others, Arizona, Oklahoma and Nevada to stop the Obama administration from relinquishing control of ICANN.

Paxton explained the potential fallout of handing away control of ICANN could be disastrous.

“It’s a private corporation, so anybody could be involved in this and you have the potential of limiting free speech, you have the potential of losing addresses and your domain name, a whole state could lose their domain name, so we don’t know what could happen,” Paxton told the FOX Business Network’s Stuart Varney.

According to Paxton, the lawsuit is based on two main complaints against the government’s decision.

“We have several claims.  One is that the Congress did not delegate this authority. Two, that Congress has the sole authority to basically give away property, they’re in control of property of the U.S. government. We can’t have agencies just transferring property of the government.”

Paxton views efforts to maintain control of ICANN as a significant issue that should transcend party lines.

“You would think that this would be a non-partisan issue that everyone would care about.  So I would think that there would be Democrats that would be in favor of protecting the internet as well because their free speech rights and their access to the internet will be affected just like Republicans.”