U.S. Move on Domain Name System Continues to Draw GOP Caution
Posted at 11:06 a.m. on May 9, 2014
(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Republicans are still trying to put the brakes — at least temporarily — on a National Telecommunications and Information Administration plan to relinquish its connection to certain key Internet domain name functions. “It would be irresponsible for Congress and the administration to ignore those hostile governments that have openly expressed their desire to seize and control the Internet,” House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton said in prepared remarks for a markup. “Once we transfer this role away, there is no going back.”
Some Democrats are pushing back. “I don’t know where these suspicions have come from, that there’s some black helicopter, something or other in this,” Anna G. Eshoo, D-Calif., has said.
\Shawn Zeller wrote in CQ Weekly last month that the Obama administration’s move is “more an effort to maintain the status quo than to create a different system of Internet governance” and that currently, broad interests provide “direction to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, the nonprofit that has held the contract to manage Web addresses since 1998.”
NTIA has decided against renewing its contract with ICANN and instead wants to allow the nonprofit to manage those tasks within a “global multistakeholder” framework.
The head of the NTIA, Lawrence E. Strickling, has contended that U.S. authority has long been perfunctory, “but it’s unclear whether that’s true,” Zeller wrote. “What is clear is that the Obama administration has decided to exercise little control over ICANN, in hopes of fending off charges from other countries that the United States runs the Internet at their expense.”
The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved a bill Thursday that would block NTIA from making the transition until the Government Accountability Office reviews a plan to do so.
The issue of the NTIA transition came up at an Internet governance meeting in Brazil last month. Earlier this week, NPR’s Corey Flintoff reported that Russian President Vladirmir Putin signed a law that will give that country’s government “much greater control over the Internet.”