A new Breitbart/Gravis pollreleased Wednesday shows that more than two-thirds of registered voters oppose President Barack Obama’s surrender of control over the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to a multi-stakeholder group that includes foreign governments.
The transfer happened last weekend, on Oct. 1, despite vocal opposition from Congress and concern that regimes such as China, Russia or Iran could eventually censor free speech on the Internet.
The poll question asks: “The United States will relinquish its administrative control over the Internet to a private organization where other countries, which could include China, Russia and Iran, will have influence for the first time on the management of the Internet. Do you think this is a good idea or not?” 71% called the policy a “bad idea,” while only 7% called it a “good idea,” and 21% were “unsure.”
Asked whether “this [is] an example of America’s weakening leadership in the world,” 51% of registered voters agreed, 36% disagreed, and 13% were unsure.
The poll was conducted Oct. 3 among 1,690 registered voters with a 2.4% margin of error.
The ICANN handover had been expected long ago, but was delayed by successive administrations, particularly as control of the root directory of the Internet became seen as a strategic asset. The Obama administration sought to appease international outrage over its eavesdropping on foreign leaders, revealed in Edward Snowden’s leaks about the National Security Agency, by transferring control of ICANN. Critics charge that there is no international body currently capable of overseeing ICANN, and that without the antitrust exemptions it had formerly enjoyed under U.S. law, it will eventually come under the control of the United Nations’ International Telecommunications Union, where repressive governments have considerable influence.