The US Senate provides full transcripts of all speeches, though there’s a delay of a day or so between a speech being read and the transcript being published.
So here’s the full transcript of Senator Ted Cruz’ speech on the IANA transition from last week (source):
“Mr. President, today our country faces a threat to the Internet as we know it. In 22 short days, if Congress fails to act, the Obama administration intends to give away control of the Internet to an international body akin to the United Nations.
I rise to discuss the significant, irreparable damage this proposed Internet giveaway could wreak not only on our Nation but on free speech across the world. So today I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join me, along with Senators Lankford and Lee, along with the Presiding Officer and his leadership, along with Congressman Sean Duffy to stop the Obama administration from relinquishing U.S. control of the Internet.
Many have stood with us in both Chambers, and we are very grateful for Senators Thune, Grassley, Burr, Cotton, Sasse, Moran, Sessions, and Rubio, along with a number of our colleagues in the House, including Congresswoman Blackburn and Congressmen Duffy, Barton, Brady, Burgess, Culberson, and Flores. And I urge even more of my colleagues to come together and stand united to stop the Obama administration’s Internet giveaway.
The Internet has been one of those transformational inventions that has changed how we communicate, how we do commerce, how we live our lives. For many, especially young people, it is hard to even imagine life before the Internet. Look at what the Internet has done. It has created an oasis of freedom for billions around the world.
One of the great problems with someone trying to start a business is what is known as the barrier to entry. What the Internet has done is dramatically reduce the barriers to entry for anyone who wants to be an entrepreneur. If you are a man or a woman or even a boy or a girl somewhere across the country or around the world and you have an idea, a service you want to sell or a good you want to make, you can put up a Web site, and instantly you have international marketing capacity. You have a portal to communicate with people. Anyone can go online and order whatever your good or service is. And between that and FedEx or UPS, you can ship it anywhere in the world. That is an extraordinary and transformational ability.
That freedom of the Internet–that you don’t have to go and get anybody’s approval; you don’t have to go to a board for business authorization if you want to create a new business–is democratizing in that effect. The Internet empowers those with nothing but hope and a dream to be able to achieve those ambitions.
Right now the proposal of the Obama administration to give away control of the Internet poses a significant threat to our freedom, and it is one many Americans don’t know about. It is scheduled to go into effect on September 30, 2016–22 days away, just over 3 weeks.
What does it mean to give away control of the Internet?
From the very first days of the Internet, when it was developed here in America, the U.S. Government has maintained its core functions to ensure equal access to everyone, with no censorship. The government role isn’t to
monitor what we say or censor what we say; it is simply to ensure that it works–that when you type in a Web site, it actually goes to that Web site and not somewhere else. Yet that can change.
The Obama administration is, instead, pushing through a radical proposal to take control of Internet domain names and give it to an international organization–ICANN–which includes 162 foreign countries. If that proposal goes through, it will empower countries like Russia, like China, like Iran to be able to censor speech on the
Internet–your speech. Countries like Russia and China and Iran are not our friends, and their interests are not our interests.
Imagine searching the Internet and instead of seeing your standard search results, you see a disclaimer that the information you were searching for is censored–that it is not consistent with the standards of this new international body and does not meet their approval. If you are in China, that situation could well come with the threat of arrest
for daring to merely search for such a thing that didn’t meet the approval of the censors. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen in America. But giving control of the Internet to an international body with Russia and China and Iran having power over it could lead to precisely that threat. And it is going to take Congress, acting affirmatively, to stop
If we look at the influence of foreign governments within ICANN, it should give us greater and greater concern. For example, ICANN’s former CEO, Fadi Chehade, left ICANN to lead a high-level working group for China’s World Internet Conference. Mr. Chehade’s decision to use his insider knowledge of how ICANN operates to help the Chinese Government and their conference is more than a little concerning. This is the person who was leading ICANN–the body we are being told to trust with our freedoms. Yet this man has gone to work for the China Internet conference, which has rightly been criticized for banning members of the press, such as the New York Times and the Washington Post.
Even reporters we may fundamentally disagree with have a right to report and to say what they believe. Yet the World Internet Conference banned them. They said “We do not want these reporters here,” presumably because they don’t like what they are saying. That led Reporters Without Borders to demand an international boycott of the conference, calling China the “enemy of the Internet.”
If China is the enemy of the Internet, do we want the enemy of the Internet having power over what we are allowed to say, what we are allowed to search for, what we are allowed to read online? Do we want China and Russia and Iran having the power to determine that if a Web site is unacceptable, it is taken down?
I would note that once this transition happens, there are serious indications that ICANN intends to seek to flee U.S. jurisdiction and to flee U.S. laws. Indeed, earlier this summer ICANN held a global conference in Finland in which jurisdiction shopping was part of their agenda–trying to figure out which jurisdiction they should base control of the Internet out of around the globe. A representative of Iran is already on record stating: “[W]e should not take it [for]
granted that jurisdiction is already agreed to be totally based on
Our enemies are not hiding what they intend to do. Not only is there a concern of censorship and foreign jurisdiction stripping U.S. law from authority over the Internet, there are also real national security concerns. Congress has received no assurances from the Obama administration that the U.S. Government will continue to have exclusive
ownership and control of the dot-gov and dot-mil top-level domains in perpetuity, which are vital to our national security. The Department of Defense, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force and the Marines all use the dot-mil top-level domain. The White House, the CIA, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security all use
The only assurance ICANN has provided the Federal Government regarding dot-gov and dot-mil is that ICANN will notify the government in the future if it decides to give dot-gov or dot-mil to another entity. So if someone is going to the IRS–or what you think is the IRS–and your comfort is that it is on a dot-gov Web site so you know it must be safe, you may instead find yourself victim of a foreign scam, a phishing scam or some other means of fraud, with no basic protections.
Congress should not sit by and let this happen. Congress must not sit by and let censorship happen. Some defenders of the Obama proposal say: This is not about censorship; it is about handing control to a
multistakeholder unit. They would never dream of censoring content on the Internet.
Well, recently, leading technology companies in the United States–Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Microsoft reached an agreement with the European Union to remove “hate speech” from their online platforms within 24 hours. Giant U.S. corporations are signing on with the government to say: We are going to help you censor speech that is deemed unacceptable.
By the way, we have seen that the definition of “hate speech” can be very malleable, depending upon what norms are trying to be enforced.
For example, the Human Rights Campaign, which is active within ICANN, has featured the Family Research Institute, the National Corporation for Marriage, the American Center for Law and Justice, and other conservative and religious groups in a report entitled “The Export of Hate.”
We are facing the real possibility of an international body having the ability to censor political speech if it is contrary to the norms they intend to enforce. In their view it is hate to express a view different from whatever prevailing orthodoxy is being enforced.
It is one thing dealing with government organizations that try to stifle speech. That is profoundly inconsistent with who we are as Americans. But to hand over control of the Internet and to potentially muzzle everybody on the Internet is to ensure that what you say is only consistent with whatever is approved by the powers that be, and that
ought to frighten everyone.
There is something we can do about that. Along with Congressman Sean Duffy in the House, I have introduced the Protecting Internet Freedom Act, which, if enacted, will stop the Internet transition and it will also ensure the U.S. Government keeps exclusive ownership and control of the dot-gov and dot-mil top-level domains. Our legislation is
supported by 17 key groups around the country–advocacy groups, consumer groups–and it also has the formal endorsement of the House Freedom Caucus.
This should be an issue that brings us all together–Republicans, Democrats–all of us coming together. There are partisan issues that divide us. There always will be. We can have Republicans and Democrats
argue until the cows come home about the top marginal tax rate, and that is a good and healthy debate to have. But when it comes to the Internet, when it comes to basic principles of freedom–letting people speak online without being censored–that ought to bring every one of us together.
As Members of the legislative branch, Congress should stand united to rein in this President, to protect the constitutional authority expressly given to Congress to control disposition of property of the United States. To put the matter very simply: The Obama administration does not have the authorization of Congress, and yet they are
endeavoring to give away this valuable, critical property–to give it away with no authorization of law.
I would note that the government employees doing so are doing so in violation of Federal law, and they risk personal liability in going forward contrary to law. That ought to trouble all of us. Who in their right mind looks at the Internet and says: You know what we need? We need Russia to have more control over this. What is the thought process
behind this, and what does it gain? What does it gain? When you look at the Internet, the Internet is working. The Internet works just fine. It lets us speak, it lets us operate, and it lets us engage in commerce.
Why would this administration risk giving it up?
Mr. President, when you and I were children, Jimmy Carter gave away the Panama Canal. He gave it away, even though Americans had built it. Americans had died building the Panama Canal, but he nonetheless gave it away. For some reason President Obama seems to want to embody the spirit of Jimmy Carter, and instead of giving away the Panama Canal, he wants to give away the Internet. We shouldn’t let him.
The U.S. Constitution prohibits transferring government property to anyone without the authorization of Congress. Article IV, Section 3 of the Constitution explicitly requires congressional authorization.
For several years now, Congress has also prohibited the administration from using any funds to “relinquish” control of the Internet. Yet, in typical lawless fashion, the Department of Commerce has been racing to prepare to relinquish control by September 30– directly violating Federal law and using taxpayer funding to do so. The administration’s continued contempt for the law and the Constitution, while, sadly, not surprising anymore, is particularly dangerous here, as it is contempt in service of undermining Internet freedom for billions of people across the world.
With the Federal Government maintaining supervision over ICANN and domain names, it means the First Amendment is protected. Other countries don’t have First Amendment protections. Other countries don’t protect free speech the way America does. And America does that for the world, protecting free speech on the Internet by preventing the government from engaging in censorship. We shouldn’t muck it up.
If the Obama administration jams this through, hands control of the Internet over to this international organization, this United Nations-like unaccountable group, and they take it overseas, it is not like the next President can magically snap his or her fingers and bring it back.
Unscrambling those eggs may well not be possible. I suspect that is why the Obama administration is trying to jam it through on September 30–to get it done in a way that the next President can’t undo it, that the Internet is lost for generations to come.
To stop the giveaway of our Internet freedom, Congress should act by continuing and by strengthening the appropriations rider in the continuing resolution we will be considering this month and by preventing the Obama administration from giving away control of the Internet.
Next week I will be chairing a hearing on the harms to our freedom that come from the Obama administration’s proposal to give away the Internet. President Ronald Reagan stated:
Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the
bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States when men were free.
I don’t want us to have to tell our children and our children’s children what it was once like when the Internet wasn’t censored, wasn’t in the control of foreign governments. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to come together, to stand together and ensure that we protect freedom of the Internet for generations to come. It is
not too late to act. And I am encouraged by the leadership of Members of both Houses of Congress who stand up and protect the freedom of the Internet going forward.”
You can see the video of the speech from last week here.
I could probably spend a couple of hours ripping that speech to shreds and pointing out the many factual errors, misleading statements etc., but I won’t. Those of you who are familiar with the realities know what is true and those who are duped by this misrepresentation of reality should have a read of ICANN’s FAQ on the subject or any of the other articles published by various people over the last couple of years.
Cruz’ hearing is scheduled for later this week, though so far names of witnesses still have not been announced. By the way he’s been characterising it it’s doubtful that it will be particularly well balanced, but I could be wrong.