Commerce Department

Poll: 61% oppose administration’s move to give up control of the Internet

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.

Obama administration cedes control of the Internet

Internet

Buried in a Friday news dump the Commerce Department announced that it would no longer oversee ICANN, meaning that the administration is giving up the last remaining control that the United States government has over the Internet, a move that leaves uncertainty about its future:

U.S. officials announced plans Friday to relinquish federal government control over the administration of the Internet, a move that pleased international critics but alarmed some business leaders and others who rely on the smooth functioning of the Web.

Pressure to let go of the final vestiges of U.S. authority over the system of Web addresses and domain names that organize the Internet has been building for more than a decade and was supercharged by the backlash last year to revelations about National Security Agency surveillance.

The change would end the long-running contract between the Commerce Department and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a California-based nonprofit group. That contract is set to expire next year but could be extended if the transition plan is not complete.
[…]
The practical consequences of the decision were harder to immediately discern, especially with the details of the transition not yet clear. Politically, the move could alleviate rising global concerns that the United States essentially controls the Web and takes advantage of its oversight position to help spy on the rest of the world.

GDP contracts in the fourth quarter

Don’t look now, but the economic recovery that we’ve been constantly told is upon us may unsurprisingly be fading away. The Commerce Department released less-than-stellar numbers this earlier today showing that gross domestic product (GDP) contracted in the last quarter of 2012:

The U.S. economy posted a stunning drop of 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter, defying expectations for slow growth and possibly providing incentive for more Federal Reserve stimulus.

The economy shrank from October through December for the first time since the recession ended, hurt by the biggest cut in defense spending in 40 years, fewer exports and sluggish growth in company stockpiles.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that the economy contracted at an annual rate of 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter. That’s a sharp slowdown from the 3.1 percent growth rate in the July-September quarter.

Oh, and by the way, you’re taxes have gone up. That’s right, Americans will have less money to spend as the affects of the tax increases that hit at the beginning of the year are felt. When money is removed from the economy, it will translate into slower economic growth or even, given that the economy contracted, a recession.

Rick Santelli, the CNBC contributor whose rant on the floor inspired the Tea Party movement in 2009, summed up the news best:

“Hey Joe,” Santelli said, “when you act like Europe, you get growth rates like Europe, and our discussions with economists sounds like we’re in Europe. They have the same discussions constantly.”

3Q growth numbers show a still struggling economy

On Friday, the Commerce Department released economic growth statistics for the third quarter of this year. Anyone hoping that the United States was seeing movement towards a quicker economic recover was no doubt disappointed at the tepid 2% growth reported:

Growth in the July-September quarter climbed slightly but was still too weak to stir significantly more hiring. The pace of expansion rose to a 2 percent annual rate from 1.3 percent in the April-June quarter, led by more consumer and government spending.
[…]
Consumer spending rose at an annual rate of 2 percent in the July-September quarter, up from 1.5 percent in the previous quarter. And a survey by the University of Michigan released Friday found consumer confidence increased to its highest level in five years this month. That suggests spending may keep growing.

Americans spent more on cars, adding nearly 0.2 percentage point to growth. Housing added to growth for the sixth straight quarter.

Sure, it’s better than the dismal numbers from the second quarter, but the economy generally sees much more substantial growth in a period of recovery. Take, for example, the recovery under Ronald Reagan. The economy was coming out of a deep recession, but grew at an annual pace of 5.7% and created millions of private-sector jobs.


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