What do Bill Clinton, The Washington Post, and The Heritage Foundation have in common?
They are all wary of a big transition that’s happening with the Internet.
Today, representatives of countries from around the world are meeting in Brazil to start discussing the Internet’s future. It’s in dispute because the U.S. is preparing to transfer the oversight it has had—oversight that has helped keep the Internet open and free.
“A lot of people…have been trying to take this authority from the U.S. for the sole purpose of cracking down on Internet freedom and limiting it and having governments protect their backsides instead of empowering their people,” former President Clinton said.
For example, Russia and China—which censor the Internet in their own countries—are keen to have the United Nations take over.
So it’s not surprising that The Washington Post’s editorial board said, “The reality is that there are dangers to the transition.”
Concerns include human rights, freedom of speech, online commerce—all the valuable functions of the Internet. Heritage experts have warned:
The U.S. has a strong interest in maintaining an open and free Internet. If Internet functions were harmed, not only would there be economic damage, but a vital forum for freedom of speech and political dissent would be compromised.
If you’re following the debate, the acronym you need to know is ICANN. That stands for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, a nonprofit that manages Internet domain names (website addresses). It has been under the supervision of the U.S. Department of Commerce, but now the Obama administration has begun the process of transferring ICANN into the international arena.
What will this mean? And how will the U.S. ensure that dictators don’t take over the Internet?
In an exclusive interview with The Foundry, ICANN President Fadi Chehadé makes the case for the transition, and Heritage’s Brett Schaefer discusses the growth of the Internet under U.S. oversight.
Watch our exclusive video to learn more
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