Top law enforcement officials in four states filed suit Wednesday to delay the Obama administration’s proposed giveaway of a critical Internet agency to an international authority, saying the grantee would have the power to “effectively enable or prohibit speech on the Internet.”
The complaint, filed by Republican attorneys general in Arizona, Oklahoma, Nevada and Texas, argues the transfer violates several components of the administration’s statutory authority.
The administration’s plan to sign ownership of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority over to international Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers on Friday would consign the critical function of governance to an international community, the complaint contends, rendering the Web vulnerable to censorship by foreign powers, despite what the rules say.
“ICANN has a documented history of ignoring or operating outside of its governing bylaws,” AGs argued in the complaint. “In addition, even under NTIA’s [National Telecommunications and Information Administration] oversight, ICANN’s current practices often foster a lack of transparency that, in turn, allows illegal activity to occur.
“Nothing protects the Plaintiffs from additional occurrences of ICANN oversight failures or actions outside of ICANN’s bylaws that could expose Plaintiffs to significant expense or harm through illegal activity,” the AGs added.
Plaintiffs contend NTIA violated administrative law and statutory authority by failing to conduct the process in a more transparent manner, or obtaining authorization from Congress.
The administration has sought for several years to complete the transfer. Congressional critics, most notably Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, have attempted to block the transfer with by stripping its federal funding in a continuing resolution.