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Sir Tim Berners-Lee in the Washington Post: Ted Cruz is wrong about how free speech is censored on the Internet

September 22, 2016 by Andrew Young

In an op-ed for The Washington Post, Network member and creator of the World Wide Web Sir Tim Berners-Lee and his colleague at MIT CSAIL Daniel Weitzner push back against calls for the United States to exert greater control in the Internet Governance space. In particular, the piece is a response to a call from Senator Ted Cruz for the U.S. to continue and ramp up its stewardship of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Numbers and Names (ICANN), the institution that controls the Internet’s domain name system (DNS). Sen. Cruz argued that if the U.S. can take greater control of ICANN, it could help to decrease online censorship by more authoritarian countries.

Sir Tim and Weitzner respond:

“From our technical and policy perspective, we believe there is no effective way for the United States to use leverage at ICANN to force countries to stop censoring speech.

What we do know is that for the Internet to work, we need global consensus on technical standards and operating procedures such as those that are administered by ICANN. Without this consensus, the networks operated by numerous companies in over a hundred countries around the world will cease to flow. The web sites designed by the leading Internet companies and hundreds of millions of individuals will cease to work. And the very domain names that we use to identify these web sites will fail.

One of the smartest things the United States and its allies have done over the years is to encourage countries, companies and individual users to rely on the technical and social consensus that makes the Internet work. The global reach of the Internet has been an extraordinary boon for the United States and for those countries that embrace the open nature of Internet technology.”

Read more here.