“if you cherish free expression, and free speech rights generally, you should be worried”
By Allen Payton, Publisher & Editor
I rarely write about national issues on the Herald website or newspaper, but this one is too important not to, as what could happen in the next few days could affect not only my business, but any and all internet-related media and any business and individual who uses the internet.
The Obama Administration supports allowing the international takeover of the internet, which was developed here in America, first by our military, and is currently controlled by American interests.
If that happens, some non-elected body made up mostly of representatives of foreign governments, which in general oppose and work against American interests and the freedoms we enjoy in our country, will be in control of the most powerful information and commerce tool ever created.
The UN could ultimately take control and it is not favorable to America and hasn’t been for years. Back in 1985 while working as an intern for then-U.S. Senator Pete Wilson in Washington, D.C., I had the opportunity to travel to New York over Thanksgiving weekend to visit a college buddy. He had to work the day after the holiday, so I spent it being a tourist in Manhattan.
One of my last stops was the United Nations building. While in the gift shop I met and struck up a conversation with a delegate from the U.S. State Department and asked him what his thoughts were on the institution. His response was rather eye-opening.
“This place is a joke,” he said. “It’s the U.S. and Israel against the world and once in awhile our old friend Great Britain will abstain.”
Well, things haven’t changed much in the 31 years since then, and actually they’ve become worse. While I believe it’s always better to talk things out than to fight them out, as the delegates to the UN spend much of their time doing in that deliberative body, the decisions they can make once they have control of the Internet could prove disastrous.
Let’s remember who some of the nation states that are members and their policies toward the Internet in their own countries. China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, just to name a few. Do we want their views, which are anathema to our God-given, constitutionally-protected freedoms of religion, speech, and the press be the ones governing or influencing how the Internet operates in our country? What about even England, Scotland or France, where certain comments that we consider disagreements and debate, can get you arrested for “hate speech”?
In a television interview on Wednesday, Ajit Pai, a senior member of the Federal Communications Commission, said “This proposal is to essentially give up the US oversight role that it’s had for the last 20 years, basically for the entire commercial lifespan of the Internet to a company called ICANN, which is an international organization, which includes a number of foreign countries.”
Pai further stated, “[I]f you cherish free expression, and free speech rights generally, you should be worried, I think, when there’s — this oversight role’s going to be ceded to potentially, foreign governments who might not share our values.”
This needs to be stopped and now.
Congress is debating the issue today and the change will occur on Saturday. Our representatives need to hear from us, now. Please join me in contacting them and urging them to vote to stop the Obama administration from transferring oversight of the internet to an international body.
Rep. Jerry McNerney
Washington, D.C. Office (202) 225-1947
Antioch Office (925) 754-0716
Stockton Office (209) 476-8552
Rep. Mark DeSaulnier
Washington, D.C. Office (202) 225-2095
Walnut Creek Office (925) 933-2660
Richmond Office (510) 620-1000
Senator Diane Feinstein
Washington, D.C. Office (202) 224-3841
San Francisco Office (415) 393-0707
Senator Barbara Boxer
Washington, D.C. Office (202) 224-3553
Oakland Office (510) 286-8537