Internet Now in Hands of Shadowy ICANN Social Justice Warriors

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By Lukas Mikelionis | 3:31 pm, October 7, 2016
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The organization that the Obama administration has transferred control of the Internet to is full of left-leaning social justice warriors.

Is free speech on the Internet about to come under threat?

ICANN, a nonprofit organization managed by a 16-member global board of directors, now has direct control over the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), the body that manages the web’s domain name system (DNS). It could theoretically erase a web site or censor the Internet in other ways.

Prior to the power transfer, the U.S. government controlled ICANN and had ultimate authority over any decisions ICANN made. This meant that the U.S. government could overrule any of the organization’s resolutions.

That changed on October 1. The U.S. agreed to transfer power to ICANN after it made some reforms to make it less susceptible to the influence of foreign governments and other organizations. But as a global private entity, ICANN won’t be bound by the First Amendment. This has sparked concern. Some worry ICANN will fall under the control of the United Nations, which has proved to be hostile to free speech on the Internet.

Senator Ted Cruz asked ICANN’s CEO & President Göran Marby whether the company would have to follow the First Amendment. He replied, “to my understanding, no.”

But who runs the shadowy company, and should we worry about corroding free speech online?

Most members of ICANN tend to keep a low profile online and are known only to people in the inner circles of governments and international institutions around the globe—but there are exceptions.

Alejandro Pisanty, now a member but a former director and vice-chair of ICANN, has signaled on his Twitter account his interest in combating hate speech online.

Maarten Botterman, an ICANN board member, tweeted the Internet should be regulated like journalism—a rather ambiguous statement.

George Sadowsky, who sits on the board of directors, has endorsed feminist literature that focuses on women on the Internet and doesn’t hide his political leanings:

Another member of the board of directors of ICANN, Khaled Koubaa, who’s also the President of The Arab World Internet Institute, has also showed his lack of neutrality on political issues:

A spokesperson for ICANN rebuffed the concerns, telling Heat Street: “The ICANN community is broad and diverse, and is made up of stakeholders with a wide range of viewpoints and positions. These diverse stakeholders come together to develop policy based on consensus of the various groups.”

Hardly an assurance to safeguard free speech.