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States sue to block White House plan for internet transition

Attorneys general from Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma and Nevada argue there has to be Congressional approval.
Billy Steele
09.30.16 in Politics
Gabriella Demczuk/Getty Images

If you thought the battle over whether or not the "keys" to the internet would be handed over to an international governing body might be over quickly, we've got some bad news. Attorneys general from Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma and Nevada filed a lawsuit this week in an attempt to block the Obama Administration's plan to cede control of the internet to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in October. The group argues that President Obama must get Congressional approval before "giving away government property."

"The Obama Administration's decision violates the Property Clause of the US 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," Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's office explained in a statement.

The Republican attorneys general echoed the sentiments of their fellow party members, arguing that the move would give authoritarian governments like China, Russia and Iran more power to censor the internet. Those three countries will participate in the international governing body that will oversee the internet and domains. Attorney General Paxton argued that trusting those governments to lend a hand to maintain the freedom of the internet was "lunacy." The group also cites security concerns over the .gov and .mil domains after the transition, but supporters of the transition say that those won't be affected by the change.

In an open letter on TechCrunch last week, a group of Congressional Democrats slammed Republicans for their resistance of the transition. The group of five Senators and Representatives reminded their counterparts, and the general public, that the US doesn't own the internet.

"If the Republicans successfully delay the transition, America's enemies are sure to pounce," the letter explained. "Russia and its allies could push to shift control of the internet's core functions to a government body like the U.N. where they have more influence."

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