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posted by janrinok on Friday September 30 2016, @12:36PM   Printer-friendly
from the too-little-too-late? dept.

Four Republican state attorneys general are suing to stop the Obama administration from transferring oversight of the internet to an international body, arguing the transition would violate the U.S. Constitution. The lawsuit — filed Wednesday in a Texas federal court — threatens to throw up a new roadblock to one of the White House's top tech priorities, just days before the scheduled Oct. 1 transfer of the internet's address system is set to take place.

In their lawsuit, the attorneys general for Arizona, Oklahoma, Nevada and Texas contend that the transition, lacking congressional approval, amounts to an illegal giveaway of U.S. government property. They also express fear that the proposed new steward of the system, a nonprofit known as ICANN, would be so unchecked that it could "effectively enable or prohibit speech on the Internet."

The four states further contend that ICANN could revoke the U.S. government's exclusive use of .gov and .mil, the domains used by states, federal agencies and the U.S. military for their websites. And the four attorneys general argue that ICANN's "current practices often foster a lack of transparency that, in turn, allows illegal activity to occur."

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  • (Score: 2) by butthurt on Saturday October 01 2016, @01:11AM

    by butthurt (6141) on Saturday October 01 2016, @01:11AM (#408606) Journal

    I was responding to your previous post in which you wrote

    The Constitution only grants specific, limited, powers to the federal government and reserves everything else for the states.

    and you seemed to be saying that, for that reason, the U.S. federal government might not have had the power to administer ICANN in the first place.

    There was a U.S. Supreme Court case called
    McCulloch v. Maryland
    in which the "necessary and proper" clause I bolded was interpreted as:

    Let the end be legitimate, let it be within the scope of the constitution, and all means which are appropriate, which are plainly adapted to that end, which are not prohibited, but consist with the letter and spirit of the constitution, are constitutional.

    -- []

    Now you're raising a different point: that the U.S. Congress hasn't given permission for this latest action. In the Wikipedia article about ICANN, someone has written

    [...] the U.S. Department of Commerce initiated a process to establish a new organization to perform the IANA functions. On January 30, 1998, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, issued for comment, "A Proposal to Improve the Technical Management of Internet Names and Addresses." The proposed rule making, or "Green Paper", was published in the Federal Register on February 20, 1998, providing opportunity for public comment.

    -- []

    The article about IANA says:

    Prior to the establishment of ICANN primarily for this purpose in 1998, IANA was administered principally by Jon Postel at the Information Sciences Institute (ISI) of the University of Southern California (USC) situated at Marina Del Rey (Los Angeles), under a contract USC/ISI had with the United States Department of Defense, until ICANN was created to assume the responsibility under a United States Department of Commerce contract.
    The Department of Commerce also provides an ongoing oversight function, whereby it verifies additions and changes made in the DNS root zone to ensure IANA complies with its policies.
    On August 16, 2016, the Department of Commerce confirmed that its criteria for transitioning IANA Stewardship transition to the Internet multistakeholder community had been met, and that it intended to allow its contract with ICANN to expire on September 30 2016, allowing the transition to take effect.

    -- []

    Assuming those things are true, it looks as though the executive branch of the U.S. government has brought about the current situation, and its power to do so has (unless I'm missing something) gone uncontested for a long time. The U.S. Congress may have granted that power in a general way. and the Congress could withdraw it. A Breitbart News article urges it to do so: []

    The plan to take the impending action was announced in March of 2014: [] (full article paywalled)

    If, as the Arizona attorney-general says, the Congress hasn't acted, it looks to me as though they've tacitly given assent.

    I'm sure these four attorneys-general have studied the topic carefully and wouldn't have filed the case unless they had a good chance of winning. They wouldn't want to make a spectacle.

    Wikipedia cites a pair of essays that explain the transfer: [] []

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 01 2016, @01:20AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 01 2016, @01:20AM (#408610)

    McCulloch v. Maryland in which the "necessary and proper" clause I bolded was interpreted as:

    That has been applied so broadly that it has effectively made useless the idea that the federal government can only legitimately perform the functions spelled out in the Constitution. It might be convenient when you want the government to do X and taking that insane interpretation would allow it to do so, but it is highly dishonest and those judges were authoritarians.