Days after US Congressman Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) sent a letter to ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade urging him to abandon plans to weaken the Internet for users in the United States and around the world, another letter co-signed by US presidential candidate Ted Cruz (R-Texas), James Lankford (R-Okla.), and Mike Lee (R-Utah) has been sent to Chehade accusing him of his recent forging of relationships with the China Led World Internet Conference in Wuzhen despite the fact that he is still an employee at ICANN a US organization.
The congressmen cited several instances of China’s reputation in bad management of freedom of the internet and frequent cases censorship.
During the last of the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, the conference organizers unexpectedly announced they had set up a new “high-level advisory committee” that would guide the agenda of future conferences and “contribute ideas for the development of the Internet.” And the committee has already had its first meeting, the organizers stated, naming ICANN’s Fadi Chehade and Alibaba CEO Jack Ma as its founders
Senator Cruz also listed pointed questions for Chehade to respond to in relation to his involvement with a recent meeting in China.
“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,” says the letter signed by senators, Ted Cruz (R-Texas), James Lankford (R-Okla.), and Mike Lee (R-Utah).
Conflict of interest is a major error of reputation within the ICANN board and the Senators did not shy off mentioning to Chehade that “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.”
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.”
The entire letter from the Senators is linked below