The Obama administration’s move to relinquish oversight of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), part of a news dump at the end of last week, has been met with opposition from Americans, according to a new survey from Rasmussen Reports:
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 61% of Likely U.S. Voters oppose the United States giving up its last remaining control over the Internet. Just 18% favor that move, while 21% are not sure about it.
Fifty-two percent (52%) think international control will make the Internet worse, but that’s less suspicious than voters were two years ago when we first asked this question. Sixty-four percent thought international control would make the Internet worse at that time. Only nine percent (9%) now think it will make the Internet better. Seventeen percent (17%) expect international control to have no impact, but 22% are undecided.
Critics of the decision to give up U.S. control of the Internet say countries like Russia, China or Iran will try to take it over to censor its content, and 66% of voters think that is at least somewhat likely. Just 25% consider it unlikely. This includes 32% who say it is Very Likely that one of these countries will try to censor the Internet and only seven percent (7%) who view it as Not At All Likely.
The administration has continued to defend the move, claiming that it won’t allow any plan to come forward that is led by another government or international body. Still, the concerns about the United Nations or countries that practice censorship of Internet speech (China) or countries with which we have rocky relations (Russia).
Sure, there may not be much to worry about right now in terms of Internet freedom, but there are a couple things that should bother us about this. First, the NSA’s domestic surveillance programs lead the international community to increase pressure on the administration to do this.
The other is that the administration’s foreign policy is just so abjectly weak. It’s not like there’s much President Obama can do about the situation with Russia, but it influence over something like the Internet would be easier to exert if it was done from a position of respect, rather than weakness.