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HomeIllinois NewsRhoads: Obama's Foolish Risk to Internet Freedom?

Rhoads: Obama’s Foolish Risk to Internet Freedom?



By Mark Rhoads –John Postel beard

The late UCLA computer scientist John Postel (1943-1988) was the founder and administrator of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) until his death in 1988.

He was a highly eccentric but very nice man, according to one person I know that knew Mr. Postel personally. My source is another pioneer who I met when I was Vice President of the United States Internet Council from 1996 to 2000.

Pioneers in the internet industry used to joke that Postel kept domain names in a file in his back pocket but it had to be more complicated than that legend, I assume.

In any case, Mr. Postel was revered by many other Internet pioneers for his early work on ARPANET that helped pave the way to the Internet we know today. The successor to IANA was incorporated in California in 1988 and is called ICANN or Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.

One of the first things ICANN did was to break down a previous monopoly that Network Solutions had to create domain names to allow new registrars to enter the business of selling domain names and I saw nothing wrong with that per se at the time. But now I am concerned that the growing international bureaucracy of ICANN is trying to remove American freedom of speech values from the Domain name system.

I could be wrong and I admit that I have not been current in this field for many years, but I am very suspicious that further dilution of U.S. values at ICANN might endanger freedom of speech very soon because President Obama wants to further internationalize the domain name system in a way that gives more control to anti-free-speech dictatorships.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and other GOP leaders are worried enough that they will soon hold hearings and may try to block Obama's plan until more is known. I think GOP concerns are very justified. Stay tuned.


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