July 10, 2016
This is a transcript of Senator Cruz given on 7/7/2016.
“Good afternoon and welcome. Thank you for joining us this afternoon. It is great to be with you to be discussing an issue I think of exceptional importance to our country and to the future.
“The Internet has been one of those transformational inventions that has changed how we communicate, how we do commerce, how we live our lives. For many, especially young people here, it’s hard to even imagine life before the Internet. But you look at what the Internet has done – it has created an oasis of freedom.
“One of the great problems with someone trying to start a small business is what are known as ‘barriers to entry.’ It’s often difficult to start a small business because it’s expensive. It used to be, a few decades ago, if you wanted to start a small business, you had to figure out a good or service to sell. You had to figure out production facilities. You had to figure out storage. And then you needed a distribution network. You needed wholesalers. You needed retailers. You needed display space. And you needed advertising. What the Internet has done is dramatically reduce the barriers to entry for anyone who wants to be an entrepreneur. You’re a man or woman somewhere across the country, or even a boy or girl somewhere across the country, or across the world, and you have an idea – a service you want to sell or a good you want to make – you can put up a website and instantly you’ve got an international marketing ability. You have a portal to communicate with people, and anyone can go online and order whatever your good and service is, and between that and FedEx or UPS you can ship it anywhere in the world. That is an extraordinary and transformational ability. That freedom – that you don’t have to go get anyone’s approval, you don’t have to go the Board of Business Authorization if you want to create a new business, if you want to take on, say, the existing taxi regimes, you start an Uber, and with the power of a whole bunch of cellphones, you transform how people get from place to place in one location – the Internet is democratizing in that effect.
“The Internet empowers those with nothing except for hopes and dreams to be able to achieve those ambitions. And when it comes to free speech, you know it wasn’t too long ago that speech was controlled by a handful of TV networks, a handful of newspapers – the gatekeepers – they decided what was news. They decided all the news that’s fit to print. And if it so happens that they didn’t think it was fit to print, that it was inconsistent with their political views, then it didn’t get said. The Internet is now a place where anyone of us can go online and say darn near anything, and I’ve got to admit, I’ve read some crazy things on the Internet.
“But it’s an amazing ability that takes power out of the entrenched elites and brings it to the people. You know, it wasn’t that many years ago that Dan Rather was a respected network news anchor… until a bunch of bloggers in pajamas began fact checking his stories and took down one of the biggest names in news. That could never have happened prior to the Internet. That ability to research, to communicate, to get a voice out, to expand virally could never have happened prior to the Internet.
“Now, what do we also know? We also know that whenever there is an oasis of freedom, as surely as night follows day, there will be government regulators who want to get their grubby, little mitts on it. That is the nature of government power – to want to control, to tax, to regulate, to make sure that freedom meets the prior approval of government.
“Right now, the Obama administration’s proposal to give away the Internet is an extraordinary threat to our freedom and it’s one that many Americans don’t know anything about. It is scheduled to go into effect September 30, 2016. We are not far away.
“From the very
first days of the Internet, the
administration is pushing through a radical proposal to take control of Internet
domains and instead give it to an international organization, ICANN, that
includes 162 foreign countries. And that means, as a necessary result, if that
proposal goes through, that will empower countries like
searching the Internet and instead of seeing your standard search results, you
see a disclaimer that the information you were searching for was censored. If
“You look at
the influence of foreign governments within ICANN, it should give us greater and
greater concerns, do we want control over Internet domains in an area where
foreign governments can exercise direct influence? For example, ICANN’s former
CEO Fadi Chehadé left ICANN to lead a high-level working group for
concerning that ICANN currently employs an individual named Tarek Kamel as a
Senior Advisor to the President of ICANN. Now clearly, anyone with a title like
that – ‘Senior Advisor to the President of ICANN’ – is someone with a great deal
of expertise and dedicated commitment to freedom of the Internet. Wouldn’t it
that were so? Tarek Kamel previously worked for the Egyptian government and is
infamous for shutting down
“I would note
as well that once this transition happens, there are strong indications that
ICANN will seek to flee
“Not only is
there a concern of censorship and foreign jurisdictions stripping
“Congress doesn’t have to sit by and let this happen. Congress doesn’t have to sit by and let censorship happen. Now, some defenders of this proposal say ‘this is not about censorship. It’s about handing control to a multi-stakeholder unit. That would never dream of censoring content on the Internet.’
recently, leading technology companies in the United States – Facebook, YouTube,
Twitter, and Microsoft – reached an agreement with the European Union, to remove
‘hate speech’ from their online platforms within 24 hours. Giant
“And I would
note just this week, YouTube used its Hate Speech Policy to remove a video
posted by Counter Jihad that was critical of the Muslim Brotherhood’s
‘Civilization Jihad.’ We are entering very dangerous territory, where giant
some might say, the
“One thing dealing with government organizations that try to stifle speech, that is profoundly inconsistent with who we are as Americans. But to hand over control of the Internet, to muzzle everybody on the Internet, to ensure that what you say is only consistent with whatever is approved by the powers that be, that ought to frighten everybody. And there is something we can do about it. Along with Congressman Sean Duffy in the House, I have introduced the Protecting Internet Freedom Act, which if enacted will stop the Internet transition, and it will also ensure the United States Government, keeps exclusive ownership and control of the .gov and .mil top-level domains. Our legislation is supported by 17 groups across the country, advocacy groups, consumer groups, and just this afternoon, we heard it is receiving the formal endorsement of the House Freedom Caucus.
“This should be an issue that brings us all together. Look, there are partisan issues that divide us, there always will be. We can have Republicans and Democrats argue till the cows come home about the top marginal rate of taxation, and that is a good and healthy debate to have. But when it comes to the Internet, when it comes to basic principles of freedom, letting people speak online, without being censored, that ought to bring everyone together. Listen, I think much of what Bernie Sanders says is nonsense. But, he has every right to yell it from a mountaintop, and I will vigorously protect his right to yell it from a mountaintop. And if you disagree with my friend Bernie, that socialism is a great economic system, the answer is not to muzzle him and prohibit him from saying it, it is to stand up and say where socialism has been implemented it has lead to misery, and suffering, and despair, it doesn’t work. The answer is to respond with facts, evidence, and persuasion.
“And let me say, young people in particular have a vested interest in this fight. Now, it is easy for young people to not be engaged in the immediate battle that is going on in Congress, ‘something about Internet domain, ICANN – I don’t know what all that nonsense means.’ But, young people, we are talking about the next generations to come to speak your mind without the government giving prior approval. And this is an omelet that will be very difficult to unscramble. If the Obama administration jams this through, hands control of the Internet over to this international organization, this mini United Nations, they take it overseas. It’s not like the next president can magically snap his or her fingers and bring it back. Freedom and free speech ought to bring us all together.
observation. What is it about those on the radical left that they refuse to
defend American interests? I remember when I was a kid in the 1970s, Jimmy
Carter had this ‘great idea’ – ‘let’s give away the
“Who in their
right mind looks at the Internet and says ‘You know what we need. We need
“The Obama administration does not have the authorization of Congress, and yet, they are endeavoring to give away this valuable, critical property, to give it away with no authorization in law. That ought to trouble all of us.
“So I would
encourage the folks listening to this, you have a powerful tool to stop this.
Speak out. Speak out online, speak out to your friends. Use the Internet, use
social media. If you liked that video, share the video. If you didn’t like the
video, make a better one. That’s the great thing about the Internet. Maybe each
one of you can do it a hundred times better, knock yourselves out. That is what
the Internet is about; it is a portal to freedom. And people need to be aware we
have a limited window of time to protect that oasis of freedom, so that we can
speak our minds and that the future is not a future of government control,
empowering our enemies at the expense of
“I believe the Internet should be free of taxes, should be free of regulation, should be free of censorship. We need to keep the Internet free, and when government bureaucrats and politicians say ‘I want control over what you say and do on the Internet.’ We should say tell them collectively to go jump in a lake. That’s a formal technical.
what I encourage each of you to do, speak out for freedom. This should be an
issue that brings everyone together. One question to ask is, why are so few
Democrats speaking out against this? There was a time when Democrats considered
themselves champions of civil liberty. There was a time when Democrats
considered themselves the defenders of the First Amendment and free speech.
Where are the Democrats standing up and saying ‘we don’t want the Internet
“And so, I appreciate the chance to be here today, and I appreciate that I didn’t have to get prior government approval before coming. Thank you very much.”