Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) plans to introduce legislation to prevent a "takeover" of the Internet by the United Nations or another government regime. Speaking Monday at Google's office in Washington, the possible presidential contender said he will introduce legislation to codify U.S. support of an open Internet as other countries attempt to control its growth.
Despite being a young man with only three years on Capitol Hill, Sen. Marco Rubio's (R-Fla.) career trajectory has changed course a couple of times. A year ago, the conservative Floridian was described as his party's "savior." A month ago, following a series of missteps, setbacks, and failures, one keen observer concluded, "The cumulative humiliations have transformed the former party savior into a figure himself in need of saving."
But Rubio remains determined to get back on track, and by all appearances, he intends to do so by focusing on foreign policy. And at a certain level, that's understandable -- Rubio's immigration-reform efforts have been broadly rejected by his allies on the right, and his support for a government shutdown last fall failed with the American mainstream. With his work on domestic policy faltering, it stands to reason the senator might start looking abroad.
That's a more effective strategy, though, when the foreign policy vision makes sense.
"Many governments are lobbying for regulatory control by the United Nations or a governmental regime," he said, adding that "opposing this takeover and preserving Internet freedom must be a top national priority."
To be sure, there are foreign governments that censor their citizens' access to online content, but it's not at all clear why Rubio sees this as a domestic threat here in the U.S.
As best as I can tell, there is no effort to empower the United Nations or anyone else to regulate the Internet on a global scale. Such a policy would certainly be scary, and would require opposition, but at present, it's also non-existent.
Given contemporary Republican politics, condemning regulations and the U.N. at the same time is clearly going to be a crowd-pleaser, especially during primary season, but there is no credible threat of a United Nations "takeover" of anything, least of all worldwide Internet content.
I reached out to Rubio's office yesterday morning, asking what the senator was referring to, but I haven't heard back.