09.28.2016 1

Democrats threaten gov’t shutdown, so Republicans surrender the Internet


By Natalia Castro

On Oct. 1, U.S. oversight of the Internet domain name system will come to an end.

With it a plethora of House and Senate Judiciary Committee concerns, congressional officials’ statements, national security professionals’ warnings, and cyber experts’ fears will all become a reality.

Yet it didn’t have to be this way. There was a chance to negotiate.

Democrats had blocked any continuing resolution bill that did not include money for Flint. Finally, when Democrats threatened a government shutdown to avoid any negotiation, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell simply gave Democrats what they wanted. The amendment for Flint would include $170 million added to a separate bill in the House — and provide Republicans with absolutely nothing in return.

All because Republicans didn’t even fight for the chance to negotiate on Flint, Michigan water funding; they just gave up.

Once again Democrats threatened a government shutdown, Republicans knew they would receive the blame — and so surrendered the Internet.

Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning highlighted the damage the transition could cause. Noting that, “Ryan and McConnell have not issued any public statements on the matter, so we must assume they actively agree with surrendering U.S. oversight of the Internet. They didn’t even put up a fight. House and Senate Republicans are not what they say, they are what they do. And what they are doing is allowing President Obama to give away the Internet to the international community, threatening the American people’s vital Internet freedoms.”

The art of negotiation has been lost within our Congress, and with it, the possibility for stable Internet security in the U.S.

As Democrats made Flint a key position for the party, Republicans had the opportunity to use the continuing resolution as a tool for debate, but instead they let the opportunity pass. Resulting in what 77 national security professionals and cyber security experts through a Global Economic Warfare letter say “is the prospect that the United States might be transferring to future adversaries a capability that could facilitate, particularly in time of conflict, cyberwarfare against us” by giving away Internet domain security to the private sector on Oct. 1.

The letter continued, “In the absence of NTIA’s stewardship, we would be unable to be certain about the legitimacy of all IP addresses or whether they have been, in some form or fashion, manipulated, or compromised. Given the reliance of the U.S. military and critical infrastructure on the Internet, we must not allow it to be put needlessly at risk.”

Aside from the national security concerns, House and Senate Judiciary Committees have outstanding questions regarding the legality of the internet transition which the Department of Justice has left unanswered including antitrust concerns. The questions reflect on the possibility of the creation of an unaccountable global internet monopoly.

But with no bargaining chips left, it appears they will remain unanswered until after the transition happens and it’s too late to do anything about it.

Apparently the art of negotiation has been lost within our Congress, and with it, the possibility for stable Internet security in the U.S. But that would imply they tried very hard. Instead, Ryan and McConnell have left their own party’s concerns neglected.

Despite having majorities in both the House and Senate, Republicans could only allow Democrats to make add-ons to the water resource bill rather than work to make add-ons themselves. Republicans have handed Democrats power in Congress without giving up their seats, but most importantly, they will have handed over the Internet in just 2 days.

Natalia Castro is a contributing editor at Americans for Limited Government.

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