Business World

Tuesday 20 March 2018

Donald Trump says America needs to control the internet to protect its freedom

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

James Titcomb

Dnald Trump has attacked plans for the US government to relinquish oversight of the internet’s governing body, warning it could threaten the web’s freedom and lead to Russia and China censoring the web.

The US presidential candidate has thrown his weight behind a campaign to block Barack Obama from transferring control of the domain name system, which controls website addresses, to an international consortium.

The DNS is effectively the web’s address book, ensuring that typing an address such as directs a browser to the correct website. While it has been operated by Icann, an international non-profit organisation, the body has been ultimately answerable to the US government for 18 years.

At the end of this month though, Congress is set to approve the contract being transferred permanently to Icann, which is run by a group of global stakeholders.

Stephen Miller, the Trump campaigns national policy director, attacked the plan on Wednesday night, saying it would “cede control to international interests” and that after the US gives up control of the internet,  there will be no way to make it great again”.

“Donald J Trump is committed to preserving internet freedom for the American people and citizens all over the world,” Miller said.

“Internet freedom is now at risk with the president’s intent to cede control to international interests, including countries like China and Russia, which have a long track record of trying to impose online censorship. Congress needs to act, or internet freedom will be lost for good, since there will be no way to make it great again once it is lost."

Ted Cruz, Trump’s former challenger for the Republican nomination, has spearheaded a campaign for Congress to block the transition, calling it an “internet giveaway”. Cruz tweeted to thank Trump for his support.Icann has dismissed such objections in the past, pointing out that it has run the DNS for years with few interventions from the US. Miller, however, said: “The US created, developed and expanded the Internet across the globe. US oversight has kept the Internet free and open without government censorship.”

Donald Trump’s warnings of internet censorship come several months after he suggested the internet should be shut down at certain times to fight terrorism.

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