Ted Cruz and the DOTCOM Act

Ted Cruz has really been growing on me. As I’ve tweeted out, I hope Trump supporters will give Cruz a look. The momentum behind Trump is due to his outspokenness about some issues (mainly immigration) that resonate with conservatives. He says things that many conservative voters are thinking, yet Republican politicians are afraid to say for fear of alienating Latino voters.

As those who are paying attention are no doubt aware, Cruz is also standing up for conservative principles. He’s no friend to the establishment leadership, which is credit in my book by that fact alone. He called Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a liar on the Senate floor just a little while ago. I recommend watching this:

While that does warm my heart to see, there is other evidence of Cruz’ bonafide conservative values. His speech on the Senate floor today was nice, but I’m sure it was politically calculated, as well. He knew (or hoped) that it would make its rounds on conservative platforms and social media, and it is indeed doing so. But he’s also been fighting for less well-publicized causes.

Take the DOTCOM Act.

I’ve been following this piece of legislation for a while now because it has to do with my work, but I’d be willing to bet most Americans haven’t heard of it and wouldn’t understand it. Essentially, it deals with the fate of an organization called ICANN.

ICANN is a nonprofit organization charged with several duties related to maintaining the Internet, simply stated. One of its jobs is to manage Internet namespaces, so it’s the one responsible for the recent suffix additions like .sucks and .xxx. There has been a fair amount of backlash from high profile individuals and companies who have felt compelled to buy the rights to domains that could be used to deceive or to attack them – perhaps something like ParisHilton.xxx or Amazon.sucks.

As an aside on that, ICANN appealed to the FTC to help them out on that. It asked if the FTC would consider investigating whether domain names used to harass or extort could be considered illegal and whether the suffixes in and of themselves were a bad idea.

The FTC responded back that they had already, prior to the release of those suffixes, warned that they were a bad idea. So this is on ICANN.


Anyway, competence.

For a while now, the Obama administration and Democrats have wanted to free ICANN from U.S. oversight. The way things are right now, ICANN is contracted by the Department of Commerce. Basically, the U.S. government protects the Internet and ensures ICANN doesn’t adopt some oppressive policy pushed by Russia or China, for example. But Democrats say the Internet should belong to everyone. The U.S. doesn’t need to guarantee a free and open Internet! Thus, ICANN was instructed to develop a plan to transition to a multistakeholder approach, meaning that it would be overseen by…someone, but not the U.S. government.

To their credit, Republicans blocked this transition in a spending bill this year, basically saying that no funding would be allowed for such a change. The contract between the Department of Commerce and ICANN must be renewed this year. Commerce acknowledged Congress’ action and said it would comply. However it did not tell ICANN to stop planning. Rather it just said the timeline had changed.

Now, in the interest of “getting things done,” the Republicans have forged a bipartisan bill with the Democrats. This is called the DOTCOM Act. Essentially, it says that once ICANN and the DoC come up with a plan to transition ICANN away from U.S. oversight, Congress has can review it. If they don’t take action within 30 days, the plan will go through. So it is almost exactly the same as the shitty Iran deal we are going to be stuck with now, since Republicans cannot muster enough votes to block a Dem-backed measure and overcome a presidential veto.

Cruz knows this. He tried to introduce an amendment to the bill which would require Congressional approval for such a plan rather than Congressional action to block it.

“If my amendment is not adopted, here’s a look into what will happen: The report will be submitted to Congress. Thirty legislative days will pass. Congress will do nothing,” he said.

He’s right, of course. But the GOP leadership is opposed. So his amendment failed, and Cruz put a hold on the bill, which will delay it for a time. He’s trying to add the amendment to an unrelated spending bill right now, but McConnell won’t let him.

Too much of Congress is corrupt and/or stupid. I can’t fathom why the Republicans would get on board with such a crappy piece of legislation, other than to fuel this perception that “we’re getting things done.” Doesn’t matter if what you’re getting done is destructive, badly-written policy. At least it’s getting done, right?

But what this shows me is that Ted Cruz is fighting for conservative principles, even over pedantic and low-visibility issues like the DOTCOM Act. Sure, he’s a politician, and a lot of what he does is surely politically-motivated and calculated. But if you’re going to support a crook, you may as well support one who has the will to fight for your values.





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