Networks Yawn as Obama Administration Gives Away the Internet
The United States government announced on Friday that it would give up control of the Internet to a global organization. Fox News extensively covered this development, but the network morning and evening shows ignored the monumental decision.
Former Republican Governor Mike Huckabee appeared on Saturday's Fox and Friends to blast the decision, arguing, "I'm an old fashioned guy that believes in American sovereignty. I think that we don't give up anything in this country. We hang on to what we have. We are a sovereign country." [MP3 audio here.]
The Wall Street Journal on Saturday reported:
The U.S. government plans to give up control over the body that manages Internet names and addresses, a move that could bring more international cooperation over management of the Web, but will make some U.S. businesses nervous.
The Commerce Department said Friday it plans to relinquish its oversight of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or Icann, which manages a number of technical functions that serve as signposts to help computers locate the correct servers and websites.
The Washington Post highlighted:
But former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) tweeted: “What is the global internet community that Obama wants to turn the internet over to? This risks foreign dictatorships defining the internet.”
The practical consequences of the decision were harder to immediately discern, especially with the details of the transition not yet clear. Politically, the move could alleviate rising global concerns that the United States essentially controls the Web and takes advantage of its oversight position to help spy on the rest of the world.
On Fox, Huckabee expressed his concerns:
HUCKABEE: People want to use our ideas, fine. We will share them. But, we're going to own them. Because if we develop it, it's ours. And if you want to accept that, fine. If you don't, then develop your own internet and spend the resources to do it.
Even the PBS NewsHour covered the story in a news brief on Friday night. Yet, ABC, NBC and CBS couldn't be bothered with wondering if giving away the internet is a good idea.
A transcript of the March 15 Fox and Friends segment is below:
CLAYTON MORRIS: We created it and now belongs to the rest of the world. The Obama administration about to hand over control of the internet to the global community giving up the oversight that manages technical functions and web site addresses, like when you buy a web domain. So, what does this mean for Americans surfing the web? We are continuing our discussion this morning with Governor Mike Huckabee on this very issue. Let me play the other side of, this, governor. Isn't this a good thing? We want to get the government away from having any hand in our web site development buying structure at all? Look what the NSA did to weaken encryption data security for American security. Diving into our personal data. Don't we want the government away from our internet?
MIKE HUCKABEE: You know, that sounds very plausible. But, why don't we go ahead and give away the recipe for Oreos? I mean, there ought to be something about the fact that the United States primarily it's military developed, you know, the whole concept of the internet. And what I fear is that when it goes into global mismatch, who then has any ability to control? Who has any ability to monitor? I do have fears, because of what the NSA has done. I mean, I think we all are shocked by the abuse of power. But I'm not sure that the answer to that is to say "let's give it to some nebulous global world here that includes the Russians and God knows who." The Chinese.
TUCKER CARLSON: The Chinese.
ANNA KOOIMAN: And they've asked in the past.
CARLSON: Exactly. And it's only because the Obama administration has really alienated the rest of the world, the opposite of what they promised to do, that we're under all this pressure to give it up. Hasn't the last week watch the Malaysians mishandle this investigation reminded you that whatever our faults, we are still the most competent, honest country on Earth by a wide margin? So why would we give up control as something as vital as the internet?
HUCKABEE: Yeah. Why don't we just clean up the kitchen rather than to abandon it? And I think that's what I'm seeing with the internet. It's almost as if rather than admit that we have made some stupid and even some unconstitutional mistakes, invasion of privacy, let's clean up our act but let's not give away the whole process.
MORRIS: Let's dive a little bit more deeply in this. Because this is an outside government contractor, is what we're talking about. ICANN.
HUCKABEE: Yeah. ICANN.
MORRIS: Which is– The government would give up control of ICANN. Again, a third party, a government contracted agency. So, if that's the case, then should we create another agency that actually is more, has more teeth that an outside government contractor? Put it inside the government and really take control of the internet?
HUCKABEE: You know, n a perfect world there would be congressional oversight and it would actually mean something and there would be accountability and there would be report-ability. There would be a clear understanding of who is managing it day-by- day. And we could have, again, accountability for the people involved. I think what all of us worry about is there is no accountability in any department of government right now. Whether it's the IRS, whether it's the NSA, the Justice Department.
MORRIS: Saw that with the CIA.
HUCKABEE: And so people are probably saying it doesn't matter. But it does matter in the long term. Because the internet is really the glue that holds the world together today. More than any other structure. If you think about it, more than even bridges and roads. The internet is how commerce is essentially carried on across the globe.
KOOIMAN: So, to clear this up for some of our viewers. I mean, what is this going to look like for Americans on the internet five years from now, Ten years from now? 'Cause this is going to happen in 2015 when the contract is up, right?
MORRIS: Yeah. I mean, I worry about censorship to go off what Anna is asking here. This idea that the government right now could be limiting or further limiting what we surf and what we have access to like China? That's what I worry about here.
HUCKABEE: Well, look, I'm an old fashioned guy that believes in American sovereignty. I think that we don't give up anything in this country. We hang on to what we have. We are a sovereign country. People want to use our ideas, fine. We will share them. But, we're going to own them. Because if we develop it, then it's ours. And if you want to accept that, fine. If you don't, then develop your own internet and spend the resources to do it.
HUCKABEE: Our tax dollars helped design this. And so, you know, the fact that we're just going to act like "oh well, you know. Anybody can have a piece of it." I'm sorry. I don't buy that.
CARLSON: Dig your own Panama Canal.
— Scott Whitlock is Senior News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Scott Whitlock on Twitter.