Even though the right-wing conspiracy theory about President Obama handing over control of the Internet to foreign powers has been completely discredited, the myth continues to survive among conservative activists and Republicans in Congress, who have seized upon the debunked claim to attack the Obama administration.
WorldNetDaily reports today that Jay Sekulow’s American Center for Law and Justice, one of the chief groups pushing the false attack, has garnered over 100,000 signatures on its petition demanding Congress take action against the phony scandal.
GOP congressmen are more than happy to help. Rep. John Shimkus of Illinois told WND that Obama is helping “authoritarian governments” push “their anti-freedom agendas” on the Internet, while Tennessee’s Rep. Marsha Blackburn warned that Obama’s move “will allow countries like China and Russia that don’t place the same value in freedom of speech to better define how the Internet looks and operates.”
As we’ve noted before, the Obama administration actually turned down requests from China and Russia to give Internet oversight to a United Nations-led panel and instead completed a sixteen year plan to relinquish oversight to a non-profit backed by the US Department of Commerce.
But Republicans and right-wing activists don’t seemed to be bothered by the fact that the administration’s decision actually represented a rebuke to countries like Russia and China, and are more than happy to gin up fears that Obama is paving the way for the censorship of the Internet.
It took just days for more than 113,000 people to sign a petition by the American Center for Law and Justice opposing the plan.
Members of Congress confirmed that in just the past few weeks, some of the possible members of the multinational body — including Russia, Turkey, China and Malaysia — either have censored the Internet in their own nations or vowed to do it.
“This isn’t a theoretical debate,” warned Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., one of several lawmakers working on one of the legislative plans.
He’s joined by Reps. Todd Rokita, R-Ind., and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.
“There are real authoritarian governments in the world today who have no tolerance for the free flow of information and ideas,” Shimkus said. “What possible benefit could come from giving the Vladimir Putins of the world a new venue to push their anti-freedom agendas?”
“This decision represents another hostile step by the administration on the heels of net neutrality and the FCC’s CIN Study that threatens our freedom of speech. Giving up control of ICANN will allow countries like China and Russia that don’t place the same value in freedom of speech to better define how the Internet looks and operates,” she warned.
The American Center for Law and Justice, which organized the petition effort, said the Obama administration is pushing into dangerous territory.
“This move would put the online liberty of Americans at great risk,” said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ. “By turning over this key oversight to an international community – which is likely to include countries hostile to America – the world’s most powerful instrument of free speech would be subject to censorship, could be taxed, and would make it easier for cyber-fraud schemes to expand in countries around the globe.”
Sekulow said the “success and freedom of the Internet would be in grave jeopardy if the Obama administration is allowed to carry through with its plan to turn over control of the Internet to a ‘multinational’ body.”
“Free speech is at the core of our Constitution. We’re working with members of Congress on legislation to keep the Internet – and our free speech – free,” he said.