US Senator Ted Cruz and Republican presidential frontrunner has sent a pointed letter to to the ICANN CEO acing him of being complicit in Chinese online censorship.
The letter [PDF] co-signed by Cruz and two other senators demanded that Chehade explain his decision to co-chair a Chinese internet governance initiative listing 9 questions to which Fadi must respond not later than February 19 2016.
The senators said:
As you must know, the World Internet Conference is not a beacon of free speech. It has been heavily criticized by members of the press for refusing to allow China-based reporters for the New York times and Washington Post to cover the conference. Reporters Without Borders demanded international boycott of the conference, calling China the “enemy of the Internet.” In addition, GreatFire co-founder, Charlie Smith, described foreign guests of the Conference as “complicit actors in the Chinese censorship regime and are lending legitimacy to Lu Wei, CAC and their heavy-handed approach to Internet governance. They are, in effect, helping to put all Chinese who stand for their constitutional right to free speech behind bars.”
“Given your assurance to preserve and prolong the free and open Internet, we were surprised and dismayed to learn that you have agreed to co-chair a high-level advisory committee for the World Internet Conference, which is organized by the Chinese government, while you serve as the Chief Executive Officer of ICANN under contract with the United States Government,” notes Cruz’s letter.
It adds: “Your participation as a co-chair of the committee raises concerns about a personal conflict of interest while you serve as the CEO of ICANN.
In December 2015, Chehade surprised and infuriated the internet governance world when he agreed to head up a new “high-level advisory committee” that will develop the agenda for future World Internet Conferences, held in Wuzhen, China, as well as “contribute ideas for the development of the Internet.”
Chehade’s decision to be involved in co-chairing the Chinese commitee, put another question mark around ICANN’s readiness to take over the IANA contract later this year. That critical transfer of power from the US government to ICANN has already been delayed by a year in large part because of ICANN’s efforts to avoid additional accountability.
See Cruz’s full letter