Students address the possibility of internet censorship with Obama administration transfer

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Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

In light of Sen. Ted Cruz’s fight to stop the Obama administration from giving up control of ICANN, the global nonprofit that manages the internet’s domain name system, students have been forced to consider the chances of having their web surfing restricted by other countries. 

ICANN is an organization that oversees the operation and maintenance of several databases related to the internet, namely the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, a private American department with every IP address in the country stored in its database.

Last Wednesday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who filed a lawsuit with three other attorneys general against the Obama Administration, joined Cruz in opposition to the proposed transfer. 

The lawsuit claimed the transfer is a violation of the property clause of the U.S. Constitution because the president would be giving away government property without approval from Congress, and the plan could impact free speech of Americans if countries such as China and Russia get involved.

“Trusting authoritarian regimes to ensure the continued freedom of the Internet is lunacy,” Paxton said in a statement to The Texas Tribune last Thursday.

Undeclared freshman Kyly Wright said the internet was already an international entity and she did not feel any danger for her rights and freedoms.

“I think the internet is such a global force already,” Wright said. “There’s not that much influence that can come from other countries that can affect us, because it is so international already in itself.”

Biology senior Luis Alan Medina said he could understand the positives of handing over the internet to a foreign entity and sharing even more information globally, but there are dangers in too much compromise.

“If the purpose is to expand, or to provide knowledge to people, and to give that access to people, then I’m for it,” Medina said. “But if we’re having to compromise our own freedoms, then I feel like that is the issue.”

Biochemistry freshman Eliana Robertson said if America was ever allowed to be censored, it would make it difficult for college students to complete their studies effectively.

“If other countries censor us from being able to look at their websites, then we don’t have the previous outlets that we used to have,” Robertson said.

Robertson also said she was doubtful the internet would be censored after Obama’s plan goes into effect.

“I don’t really know the whole process, but I don’t necessarily think that [this] could happen,” Robertson said. “Seeing that everyone here is opposed to [censorship], I don’t have a strong belief that it could happen. I think it’s good that we have such a wide range of things that we can look up.”