On 14 March 2014, Obama announced his plans to move the control of the Internet from the United States’ Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to a yet-to-be-determined international group. Subsequently, various news organizations presented differing views on the change. A Washington Post article quotes the Newt Gingrich tweet “What is the global internet community that Obama wants to turn the internet over to? This risks foreign dictatorships defining the internet.” Additionally, the Post article pointed to ways the National Security Agency phone-spying scandal places pressure on the Obama administration to appease the 125 foreign dignitaries caught up in the spying. Conversely, a 17 March Washington Times article points out that the change has been scheduled since a 1998 Commerce Department agreement. Still, any words that bargain away the controlling agency of the Internet while not naming the recipient of the control or the date of the change seems to be just a good gesture.
The Alternatives to American Oversight
Since Obama never specified which recipients might receive the privilege of becoming overseers of the Internet during his blind scramble to obscure his scandals, is there really any reason for us to object to this move? Are there any valid reasons that we encourage him to not transferring this vital resource to some other entity? To prove that there are reasons for rejecting the move of Internet oversight from a setting where free speech standards are set (although sometimes seemingly ignored), consider these:
- United Nations – On 9 August 2012, Forbes documented the United Nation’s various reasons behind the several attempts to take over the Internet. If we were to hand the Internet over to these people, we could say goodbye to freedom of speech, religious freedom, and a good portion of online commerce.
- China – According to a 12 February 2014 article on the Council on Foreign Relations censorship of the Internet resources within China has increased dramatically over the past five years.
- Russia – Considering the way Russia took Crimea and then began pressuring Ukraine (as reported by an 1 April 2014 New York Times article), we can hardly expect Russia not to
- Turkey – As a supposedly “moderate” force in the Islamic world, a 9 January 2014 article revealed that the Turkish government has moved to impose strict controls on the Internet by monitoring the activities of online users and blocking certain keywords. Additionally, a 22 March 2014 article in the New York Times the digital ban imposed by the Turkish government. While it is likely that they would allow full text searches of the Quran, something tells me that research on any other religion would be disabled across the Internet if they were allowed to become overseers.
- Sudan – Although President Omar al-Bashir allows citizens from South Sudan to be taken as slaves by the north (and even exported to the Arabian Gulf), this 24 March 2014 article details how the Sudanese government seeks to block “negative” websites.
- Egypt – This 28 January 2011 article tells how Egyptian government managed to completely shut down the Internet within Egypt during the riots against Mubarak.
- Iran – A 9 May 2013 article details how Iran also shut down the Internet in response to calls for greater freedoms from its people.
- Sweden – In an effort to prove how tolerant they are, Sweden has opened their borders to Muslim immigrants and has suffered 1000 rapes during the first seven months of 2013. Despite this, debate over the problem is skewed by accusations common to the intolerant left.
Why Christians Might Oppose Moving Oversight
We must act to retain control of the Internet within the United States because our First Amendment provides protection to our religious rights and because we seek to remain true to the following verses from the Bible:
- We want to promote the gospel.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28: 19-20)
- We want to make the world a more truthful place.
Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. (1 Peter 2:1)
- We want to promote all kinds of truth.
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John 8:32)
- We want to promote the general welfare of the world.
When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan. (Proverbs 29:2)
- We do not want to support something that is antithetical to both our beliefs and the general welfare of the world.
Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. (Romans 6:13)
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)
Action to Take
The most effective action that we might take is to sign the petition by the American Center for Law and Justice at http://aclj.org/free-speech-2/dont-let-dictators-control-internet-keep-web-free.