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GOP platform: 'Survival of the internet as we know it is at risk'

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GOP platform: 'Survival of the internet as we know it is at risk'

Whilethe Republican Party's newly released 2016 platform is drawing attention for its position on socialissues, the GOP policy document also touches on technology, IP and data privacyconcerns.

Theplatform stresses limited federal government and regulation throughout itsvarious proposals. In line with that theme, it calls for an independent internetthat is protected from too much federal oversight while also sharplycriticizing a decision to transition key internet domain name functions to aglobal multistakeholder community.

"Thesurvival of the internet as we know it is at risk. Its gravest peril originatesin the White House, the current occupant of which has launched a campaign, bothat home and internationally, to subjugate it to agents of government," theplatform states.

TheGOP platform specifically opposes the FCC's Open Internet order, adopted inFebruary 2015, which reclassified wireline and wireless broadband service as atelecommunications service subject to common carrier regulation under Title IIof the Communications Act. The reclassification enabled the FCC to impose anumber of rules aimed at protecting net neutrality, such as banning blocking,throttling and paid prioritization of content. While thereclassification has faced legal challenges, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in Juneissued a 2-1 ruling upholding the order.

Onthis issue the Republican platform contrasts with a draft version of theDemocratic platform,which states that "Democrats … will oppose any effort by Republicans toroll back the historic net neutrality rules that the Federal CommunicationsCommission enacted last year."

TheGOP document also calls out the National Telecommunications and InformationAdministration's 2014 decision to give up its stewardship of the internet'sdomain name system to a global multistakeholder community as an"abandonment" and "surrendering" of U.S. control overinternet domain names and addresses.

"[PresidentBarack Obama] threw the internet to the wolves, and they — Russia, China, Iran,and others — are ready to devour it," the platform reads.

Thisis an argument that has repeatedly been made by various Republicanrepresentatives, including Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. In June, Cruz — along withRep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis. — introduced the Protecting Internet Freedom Act, whichwould prohibit the NTIA from completing the transition process unlessspecifically authorized by Congress. The bill was referred tocommittee in June but has yet to advance from there.

"Theinternet's independence is its power," the Republican platform states."We will therefore resist any effort to shift control toward governance byinternational or other intergovernmental organizations."

Addressingprivacy concerns, the GOP platform promises to protect personal data but saysit will do so through private sector solutions rather than governmentregulation. "The internet's free market needs to be free and open to allideas and competition without the government or service providers pickingwinners and losers," it reads.

TheRepublican platform also touches on the issue of cybersecurity, noting thatcyberattacks against U.S. businesses and government institutions have become"almost routine."

"Theywill continue until the world understands that an attack will not be tolerated— that we are prepared to respond in kind and in greater magnitude," theplatform states. It adds that perpetrators should be met with "diplomatic,financial, and legal pain, curtailing visas for guilty parties, freezing theirassets, and pursuing criminal actions against them."

Theplatform suggests the possibility of developing a free market for cyberinsurance, but it says that "users have a self-defense right to deal withhackers as they see fit." The document does not expand on how individualsmight exercise that self-defense right.

Thedraft version of the Democratic platform also pledges to protect privacy andintellectual property. "Democrats will fight against unfair theft ofintellectual property and trade secrets," the draft platform states."We will also increase access to global markets for American intellectualproperty and other digital trade by opposing quotas, discriminatory measures,and data localization requirements."