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Cruz’s ICANN paranoia is now official Republican policy

Kevin Murphy, July 20, 2016, Domain Policy

US Republicans have endorsed hitherto fringe views on the IANA transition as official party policy.

Yesterday delegates at the Republican National Convention approved the party’s 2016 Platform of the party, which “declares the Party’s principles and policies”.

Internet policy takes up just half a page of the 66-page document, but it’s half a page straight out of the paranoid mind of former presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz.

It talks of the transition of the US government from its involvement in DNS root zone management (what the GOP calls “web names”) as an “abandonment” of internet freedoms to Russia, China and Iran, which are ready to “devour” them.

Here’s the relevant passage in (almost) full.

Protecting Internet Freedom

The survival of the internet as we know it is at risk. Its gravest peril originates in the White House, the current occupant of which has launched a campaign, both at home and internationally, to subjugate it to agents of government. The President… has unilaterally announced America’s abandonment of the international internet by surrendering U.S. control of the root zone of web names [sic] and addresses. He threw the internet to the wolves, and they — Russia, China, Iran, and others — are ready to devour it.

We salute the Congressional Republicans who have legislatively impeded his plans to turn over the Information Freedom Highway to regulators and tyrants. That fight must continue, for its outcome is in doubt. We will consistently support internet policies that allow people and private enterprise to thrive, without providing new and expanded government powers to tax and regulate so that the internet does not become the vehicle for a dramatic expansion of government power.

The internet’s independence is its power. It has unleashed innovation, enabled growth, and inspired freedom more rapidly and extensively than any other technological advance in human history. We will therefore resist any effort to shift control toward governance by international or other intergovernmental organizations. We will ensure that personal data receives full constitutional protection from government overreach. The only way to safeguard or improve these systems is through the private sector. The internet’s free market needs to be free and open to all ideas and competition without the government or service providers picking winners and losers.

Previously, such views had been expressed by just a handful of elected Republicans, notably Cruz, who has introduced a bill to block the IANA transition until Congress passes law specifically allowing it.

The irony in the latest GOP statement is that the transition is actually a transfer of power away from governments (specifically, the US government) into the private sector.

The current plan for a post-US ICANN, which was put together over two years by hundreds of participants mostly from the private sector, would see Governmental Advisory Committee advice carry less weight unless it receives full consensus.

In other words, if Iran, China and Russia want to destroy freedom of speech, they’ll have to persuade over 150 other governments to their cause.

Should that ever happen, a new multi-stakeholder (and in this example, government free) “Empowered Community” would have the power to put a stop to it.

The goal is to have the transition completed shortly after the current IANA contract between ICANN and the US Department of Commerce expires at the end of September.

That’s before the US presidential elections, of course, which take place in November.

Demand Media: ignore our Republican gTLD rivals

Kevin Murphy, October 31, 2012, Domain Registries

Demand Media has asked ICANN to “ignore” complaints from the US Republican party about its application for the .republican gTLD.

Last month, the Republican National Committee and the Republican State Leadership Committee submitted comments to ICANN arguing that Demand would be an unsuitable custodian for the gTLD.

Demand is best known for its “unofficial, mediocre and sometimes incorrect” content farms, such as eHow, the letter (pdf) said.

The company should not be allowed to run .republican because it implies endorsement by the Republican party, or some kind of community backing for a non-Community application, the letter said.

This week, Demand has responded, saying it’s nothing but competitive posturing, given that the RSLC has applied for .gop (for “Grand Old Party”, a nickname for the Republicans):

A letter to ICANN from Demand subsidiary and .republican applicant United TLD Holdco, says:

Because the RSLC and RNC have applied for .GOP, an arguably competing string, it is easy to see through these arguments and ignore them as nothing more than an attempt to undermine the credibility of United TLD in order to gain a competitive advantage.

By their own admission, RSCL and RNC agree that “.REPUBLICAN has the potential to be a very powerful gTLD.” It is natural then, that they would attempt to discredit United TLD in the hope of eliminating competition for their own string.

The thrust of Demand’s rebuttal is that Republicanism is not an exclusively American movement — other parties around the world use the name — and that it also has generic meaning.

It further argues that the quality of the content Demand provides elsewhere is irrelevant, because the company plans to sell .republican domain names, not produce content there.

Demand has also applied for .democrat, the other major US political party, but did not receive any complaints from the Democratic party during the designated ICANN comment period.