Texas is in court today, leading a last-minute effort to stop the Obama administration from transferring U.S. control of internet domain names and designations on Saturday.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and the attorneys general of Arizona, Oklahoma and Nevada filed suit against the transfer earlier this week. The case will be heard this afternoon in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Texas in Galveston before U.S. District Judge George Hanks Jr.
The dispute is over the Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, which has been under the oversight of the U.S. Commerce Department. The move to privatize the nonprofit international organization has been in the works for years. While the administration views the move as a technical transfer, critics like Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, warn that countries that stifle free speech like China, Russia and Iran would have more leverage to censor the internet in their countries.
“Trusting authoritarian regimes to ensure the continued freedom of the internet is lunacy,” Paxton said in announcing the lawsuit. “The president does not have the authority to simply give away America’s pioneering role in ensuring that the internet remains a place where free expression can flourish.”
Cruz advocated delaying the transfer to the nonprofit, international organization in the continuing resolution that Congress just approved to keep the federal government operating through Dec. 9. But lawmakers opted for what Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called a “clean” CR that did not include controversial provisions.
“Glaringly absent from this legislation is any action by Congress to stop President Obama’s internet giveaway,” said Cruz after the vote . “As a result of congressional inaction, on October 1 President Obama intends to give increased control of the internet to authoritarian regimes like China, Russia and Iran. Like Jimmy Carter gave away the Panama Canal, Obama is giving away the internet.”
The lawsuit filed by Paxton and the other attorneys general said the transfer “violates the Property Clause of the U.S. Constitution by giving away government property without congressional authorization, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by chilling speech and the Administrative Procedure Act by acting beyond statutory authority.”