Top law enforcement officials in four states filed suit Wednesday to delay the Obama administration’s proposed transfer on October 1st of a critical Internet agency to an international authority, saying the grantee would have the power to “effectively enable or prohibit the exercise of free speech on the Internet.”
[UPDATE] Terrible News: Obama-appointed federal judge, George C. Hanks, Jr. (right) rejects Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton‘s and 3 other state attorneys general last-minute bid for a court injunction to prevent the federal government from transferring its oversight of internet registrations to an international body.
Texas Tribune(h/t WTD) Hours b
efore the transition was set to take effect, a federal judge in Galveston ruled against Paxton and three other state attorneys general who had asked him to temporarily halt the transfer while they pursue a lawsuit challenging it. The four sued the federal government late Wednesday after Republicans in Congress, led by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, failed to halt the transfer.
At midnight Friday, the United States is set to cede control of the internet’s domain system — essentially its address book — to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. Critics say the move could open up the internet to censorship by unfriendly countries, while the Obama administration officials say such concerns are misinformed.
In a statement late Friday, a Paxton spokesman called the ruling disappointing.
“It’s a dire day in our country when the president is allowed to unilaterally give away America’s pioneering role in ensuring that the internet remains a place where free expression can flourish,” the statement read. “We will continue to weigh our options as the suit moves forward.”
Among other things, Paxton’s lawsuit argues the move violates the property clause of the U.S. Constitution by giving away government property without congressional authorization. In a response to the lawsuit earlier Friday, the federal government criticized it as a last-ditch effort to stop something that has been years in the making — with everyone involved “fully aware” of it.
The ruling by Judge George C. Hanks Jr. came after a hearing in Galveston that lasted more than an hour. His reasoning was not immediately known.
Washington Examiner(h/t flame) The complaint, filed by Republican attorneys general in Arizona, Oklahoma, Nevada and Texas, argues the transfer violates several components of the administration’s statutory authority.
The administration’s plan to sign ownership of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority over to international Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers on Friday would consign the critical function of governance to an international community, the complaint contends, rendering the Web vulnerable to censorship by foreign powers, despite what the rules say.
“ICANN has a documented history of ignoring or operating outside of its governing bylaws,” AGs argued in the complaint. “In addition, even under NTIA’s [National Telecommunications and Information Administration] oversight, ICANN’s current practices often foster a lack of transparency that, in turn, allows illegal activity to occur.
“Nothing protects the Plaintiffs from additional occurrences of ICANN oversight failures or actions outside of ICANN’s bylaws that could expose Plaintiffs to significant expense or harm through illegal activity,” the AGs added.
Plaintiffs contend NTIA violated administrative law and statutory authority by failing to conduct the process in a more transparent manner, or obtaining authorization from Congress.
The administration has sought for several years to complete the transfer. Congressional critics, most notably Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, have attempted to block the transfer with by stripping its federal funding in a continuing resolution.