It was hardly noticed at the time, but its consequences could be catastrophic. Late last September, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which assigns internet domain names, approved a huge change in the way it operates. Europe and North America will now have five seats on its Board of Directors, instead of ten, and a new "Arab States" region will have five seats as well.
How big a deal is this? ICANN at the same time took a reference to "terrorism" out of its Draft Applicant Guidebook. Why? Because Arab groups complained. And so now jihad terror websites can grow and prosper, as ICANN has removed its own ability to police them.
This has been a long time coming.
Back in October 2009, I warned of a seismic transformation in internet regulation and free speech. Under the transnational-happy Obama administration, the U.S. relinquished control of the net at that time. ICANN ended its agreement with the U.S. government.
If not America, who? Now we know the answer to that. The new agreement gave other countries (including dictatorships and rogue nations) and the U.N. the ability to set internet use policies. At the time, I wrote, "[W]atch for Sharia law to find its way into this."
Well, that didn't take long. The ICANN action in September gave the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) and other unfriendly nations a prominent internet role -- something they never could get during the administration of George W. Bush.
The OIC has already effectively used the UN to push its censorship agenda. But the UN is virtually toothless when it comes to the United States. However if the Muslim world can dominate ICANN the way it dominates the UN General Assembly, then free speech on the internet is dead.
In practice, the new arrangement makes it much easier for Muslim countries to dictate what stays on the internet and what doesn't. The removal of the material about "terrorism" was just muscle-flexing; there is much more of that kind of censorship coming. If this stands, anti-jihad sites like my own site AtlasShrugs.com and the JihadWatch.org site run by my colleague Robert Spencer will likely lose their domain names. It will become harder and harder to find the truth about jihad activity, or any resistance to it, on the internet or anywhere else.
Why is this necessary at all? Why should the U.S. relinquish control of its own invention? The internet was our extraordinary gift to the world. We kept it free. And now, like some depraved drunk, we are tossing it away and relinquishing control to the vultures and destroyers.
The new "net neutrality" rules approved last week by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will just make that easier as well. Columnist Jonathan Gurwitz explains:
Net neutrality is anything but neutral. It takes the operation of the Internet away from the heterogeneous and diversified interests of the private sector that has created it and concentrates it in the hands of an unelected and unaccountable board of political appointees atop a federal bureaucracy.
"Few proposals in Washington have been sold employing such deceptive language - and that's saying something," observed James G. Lakely, the co-director of the Center on the Digital Economy for the Heartland Institute, a free-market think-tank. "But few public policy ideas can boast the unashamedly socialist pedigree of net neutrality."
Lakely charged that FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, an Obama crony, wants to "claim for the FCC the power to decide how every bit of data is transferred from the Web to every personal computer and handheld device in the nation." While net neutrality advocates advertised their plan as one that would ensure a "free and open internet," in reality, net neutrality was an attempt to limit the freedom of internet users by subjecting what had always been a free-market give-and-take to government regulation. In short, the FCC would control how all information reached personal computers.
An internet censored by Muslim ideologues and controlled by the feds. Do you see your freedom of speech slipping away?
John Bolton said at an appearance at Duke University in 2009, "[I]t's not American strength that's provocative, it's American weakness." Now we are reaping the poisonous fruit of Obama's skulduggery: Islamic takeover.Pamela Geller is the editor and publisher of the Atlas Shrugs website and former associate publisher of the New York Observer. She is the author of The Post-American Presidency.