Four states — Arizona, Oklahoma, Nevada, and Texas — are suing to stop the U.S. government from transferring control of the Internet to an international body on Saturday.
A U.S. Department of Commerce contract with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, is set to expire Friday. ICANN, formed in 1998, manages domain names and assigns Internet service provider numbers.
In June, the Department of Commerce and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration announced that ICANN had submitted a proposal for complete privatization of the system, and that the United States would relinquish stewardship when the contract expires.
The Republican attorneys general from the four states filed the lawsuit Wednesday in federal court in Galveston, Texas. They say the states “will lose the predictability, certainty, and protections that currently flow from federal stewardship of the Internet and instead be subjected to ICANN’s unchecked control,” the lawsuit alleges.
The suit says that President Barack Obama’s plan to hand over control of the Internet in an illegal transfer of U.S. government property and that it requires congressional approval.
“Trusting authoritarian regimes to ensure the continued freedom of the Internet is lunacy,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement. “The president does not have the authority to simply give away America’s pioneering role in ensuring that the Internet remains a place where free expression can flourish.”
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has been vocal in his opposition to the move, saying the United States is “giving away the Internet.”
The ICANN board of directors is overseen by the Governmental Advisory Committee, which includes 111 countries, including China, Russia and Iran. But according to the organization’s website, countries don’t control the Internet.
“The United States government’s contract with ICANN does not give the U.S. any power to regulate or protect speech on the Internet … The freedom of…