Ted Cruz is back to his old ways, trying to control something he doesn’t understand
We all know Texas Senator Ted Cruz has absolutely no idea what he’s talking about, ever. But now that he’s done battling Donald Trump in the primary and returning to his old ways, Cruz wants to regulate control of the internet. Just like all the time, space, and effort he spent trying to regulate women’s bodies, he’s now onto the internet, proving that he has no idea how either of those things actually functions. It would be cute if what he were proposing weren’t so stupid. At a Senate Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts meeting Wednesday, Cruz called for more government regulation of the internet, which goes against the Republican belief that the government should regulate next to nothing (except a woman’s uterus) and is just not technically possible.
OK, it is possible, but not in the way Cruz thinks. Listen, it’s alright if you don’t exactly understand how the internet actually works. Most people don’t, really, but we’re not trying to impose any rules on it. As long as it goes to the desired webpage when we type in a URL or the thing works when we try to download a hardcore porn GIF, who the fuck cares? Ted Cruz cares, apparently.
On Sept. 30, the U.S. Department of Commerce will let the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) officially have power over the domain name system (which is the nuts and bolts of how you type in a URL and get to a site). ICANN is a non-profit based in San Francisco, California that was founded in 1988 and has an international board of 21 people and global “community members.” It’s accountable to its bylaws and the rules voted upon by the board, which is elected by members. It’s pretty open.
Also, ICANN doesn’t deal with the content of websites — it just makes sure the functions of the web work. So when Cruz said at the subcommittee hearing in opposition to ICANN taking over, “Imagine an internet run like many Middle Eastern countries, that punish what they deem to be blasphemy. Or imagine an internet run like China or Russia, that punish and incarcerate those that engage in political dissent,” he’s fear mongering. He also said the United States has been the main oversight of the internet since its inception. That’s not true, either.
Brian Feldman of New York magazine writes that Cruz’s attempt to turn this very standard, simple process of giving ICANN control (which has been happening since 2014, after the Edward Snowden leaks) into a controversy could mean that other nations take notice. No one in the world wants America to have more than a fair share of oversight over the world wide web. It’s not ours to control. The United Nations could take action and then the network could be folded into the International Telecommunications Union — which means more regulation, more bureaucracy, and more of everything the Republican party supposedly hates.
Not only does Cruz have no idea what he’s talking about on a technical level, he’s also going against his party’s belief in minimal government regulation and taking up time on a soapbox for silly political maneuvers, like when he was happy to shut down the entire government over Planned Parenthood funding. The Obama administration isn’t “handing over the internet” to someone else. It’s not America’s to hand over. Cruz and Trump have more in common than they might have thought this year — it’s all about getting attention by talking about very complex things — like women’s health, ISIS, or the internet — and trying to get ahead on misinformation.