Republicans fear Obama will let russia seize internet power

The administration insists no government will gain new influence over the Internet.

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By Brendan Sasso

An Obama administration plan to give up oversight of certain technical Internet functions could open the door to a takeover by authoritarian regimes, Republican lawmakers claimed Wednesday.

If Russia or China gain new influence over the management of the Internet, they could begin censoring content or blocking websites, the Republicans warned.

“Make no mistake: Threats to the openness and freedom of the Internet are real,” said Republican Rep. Greg Walden, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee, which held a hearing on the issue Wednesday. “Leaders such as Vladimir Putin have explicitly announced their desire to gain control of the Internet.”

Walden and other Republicans are pushing a bill that would block the transfer of authority until the Government Accountability Office can study the issue. Dozens of Senate Republicans, led by John Thune and Marco Rubio, sent a letter to the administration on Wednesday, demanding more answers about the plan.

But Democrats at Wednesday’s hearing insisted that if Republicans were serious about Internet freedom, they would support the U.S. proposal. Assistant Secretary of Commerce Larry Strickling said the U.S. will make sure that no foreign government will be able to seize new powers over the Internet.

 

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