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Internet

Ted Cruz threatens spending deadlock to protect the Internet

Just weeks away from a deadline to transfer US power of the domain-naming system for the Internet to an international body, the senator threatens to stop it with a rider to a spending bill.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is upping the ante in his fight to make sure the US maintains control over the Internet.

The former presidential candidate is meeting with conservative congressional leaders in an effort to block the US Department of Commerce from transferring its oversight of the domain-naming system for the Internet, which is scheduled to happen on October 1. Cruz is threatening to include a rider in a government funding bill to block the transfer of oversight to an international body.

The move could result in another showdown between Republicans and the White House, that could threaten to shut down the government weeks before US elections.

Cruz urged his colleagues "to stop the giveaway of our Internet freedom" in a speech on the Senate floor last week. In a speech at the Republican National Convention in July, Cruz said he feared the system will now be open to interference from foreign governments after being safely guarded for years by the US.

The domain name system, or DNS, is one of the core components of the internet. It links every web address to servers using a unique set of numbers, commonly referred to as an IP address.

The plan to turn over power of the DNS from the US Department of Commerce to a multi-stakeholder nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has been in the works for several years. The US government's caretaking of the system was always supposed to be a temporary measure and its partnership with ICANN stretches back as far as 1998.

An agreement to complete the transition was made back in 2014. In August, the government announced that ICANN is ready to take charge of the system, according to the Commerce Department's blog post.