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Far-Right warns: Obama to let ‘jihadists’ take over Internet

Imagine 2050 Staff • Apr 01, 2014

Last month, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced it would reduce its role in regulating Internet infrastructure when its current oversight contract with the Internet’s primary governing organization expires in autumn 2015. Predictably, far-Right activists are using the announcement to further perpetuate conspiracy theories and warnings of Muslim global domination.

Far-Right activists began sounding the alarm shortly after March 14 when the Commerce Department said it would allow its contract with the International Corporation for Assigned Numbers and Names (ICANN) to expire – setting the stage for the U.S. to reduce, but by no means eliminate, its role in global Internet governance.

It should be noted that the Commerce Department’s announcement assured that no transition plan would be approved if it threatened the “security, stability and resiliency of the Internet DNS” or “the openness of the Internet.” Regardless, many on the far-Right said the move represents next great threat facing America.

In a recorded announcement, anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney described the announcement as “the latest example of President Obama’s systematic efforts to diminish our country in ways that undermine liberty.”


He asserted the main benefactors of this Internet governance transition would be the United Nations and “stealth jihadist groups” like the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) – a longtime staple of Gaffney’s persistent warnings of the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Muslim takeover of America (and the world).

Gaffney was not alone in decrying the announcement. Anti-Muslim grassroots organization ACT! for America also outlined its dissent in a several emails to supporters. ACT! described the Commerce Department’s announcement an “outrage” and dubiously claimed the Obama Administration is “putting you and your family at risk by giving power to the United Nations (UN) to control the Internet and muzzle YOUR freedom of speech, putting you at a risk of legal action just for expressing your view on the Internet!” Iran and Saudi Arabia particularly, ACT! warned, are actively moving “to fill the power vacuum caused by America’s unilateral retreat.”

ACT! refers to the UN-led International Telecommunications Union (ITU) when it warns of a power transition that is in no way based on facts. This, according to ACT!, would allow the OIC (i.e. those “stealthy” Muslims) more say in global internet governance. In realty, any transition plan that gives individual governments or groups like the ITU control would be denied.

Editors at the National Review Online also weighed in with commentary headlined: “Don’t Globalize ICANN.”

This is not the first time the far-Right and the Islamophobia movement have said decisions related to ICANN would lead to an increase in terrorism. In 2010, Robert Spencer complained that a background check policy for top level domain applications was changed amid concerns of racial profiling and prejudice against Muslims and Arabs.

“Well, that’s very important,” Spencer quipped. “We  don’t want millions of Muslims and Arabs to see us as racist and prejudiced. Better to be blown up in a jihad attack than that!”

As the New York Times noted, the Commerce Department’s March announcement was more than 15 years in the making:

“Since the dawn of the Internet, the United States has been responsible for assigning the numbers that form Internet addresses, the .com, .gov and .org labels that correspond to those numbers, and for the vast database that links the two and makes sure Internet traffic goes to the right place.

“The function has been subcontracted since 1998 to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, an international nonprofit organization, with the expectation that the United States would eventually step back from its role.”

No proposals for next year’s transition process have emerged yet – though some will likely surface after ICANN’s meeting in London this June. Given the Internet’s importance in today’s society, the process will surely be subject to unprecedented scrutiny. As such, there is certainly room for valid skepticism.

Any accusations from Gaffney, ACT!, or others even further on the fringes of the far-Right like Pamela Geller, that the OIC or any group is about to impose Sharia law on the world via the Internet should be taken as the laughable conspiracies they are.

Unfortunately, but not unsurprisingly, members of Congress that have aligned themselves with ACT! and other anti-Muslim policymakers such as Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) are already parroting the talking points of these paranoid extremists and introducing legislation to halt any transition.

This is just another example of the Islamophobia movement exploiting uncertainty around “globalism” and “transition” to peddle conjecture and misinformation to reaffirm anti-Muslim paranoia.

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