Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) won the second-most number of delegates among Republican candidates, but he couldn’t stop the momentum of Donald Trump and dropped out on May 3. He is widely considered the most likely of the four senators who ran for president in 2016 to do so again in 2020, if the opportunity presents itself. Since dropping out, Cruz has introduced one bill, out of the 36 he has introduced this Congress: S. 3034, the Protecting Internet Freedom Act.
Since the early days of the Internet, the U.S. government has helped oversee the Internet domain name system which allows people to access most websites, through a subdivision of the Department of Commerce called the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. The Obama Administration has to decide by September 30 whether to privatize these functions and take it out of government’s hands. Cruz’s bill would prevent the NTIA from relinquishing its authority over the Internet domain name system unless explicitly authorized by Congress.
Cruz casts the bill as a necessary bulwark against foreign influence of an American-led communications medium. “The Obama administration is months away from deciding whether the United States Government will continue to provide oversight over core functions of the Internet and protect it from authoritarian regimes that view the Internet as a way to increase their influence and suppress freedom of speech,” said Cruz, citing Russia and China as examples. “This issue threatens not only our personal liberties, but also our national security.”
Opponents argue that privatization would “give oversight authority to those groups that represent the rich diversity of the Internet itself: business leaders, Internet engineers, academics, civil society, governments, end users and many others,” as a recent op-ed published in Politico by former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said. Some observers have also noted the irony that the self-proclaimed “anti-government” Cruz supports a bill that would retain partial government control over the Internet.