House Advances DOTCOM Bill

The House of Representatives this week approved a measure that would delay the Obama Administration’s plan to give up the U.S. Government’s oversight role over the Internet’s Domain Name System (DNS).  The Domain Openness Through Continued Oversight Matters (DOTCOM) Act (H.R.4342), authored by Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL), would require a study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) before any such change. 

House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) stated, “Today the U.S. Congress signaled that we will do all we can to ensure the Internet continues to serve as the greatest engine of economic activity, job creation, and social discourse the world has ever seen. Nations like Russia, China, and Iran would like nothing more than to wrest control of the Internet.”

However, the Administration has declared opposition to this legislation.  Kelly Welsh, General Counsel for the U.S. Department of Commerce, wrote to Chairman Upton, “The Administration, however, opposes legislation substituting the judgment of the GAO or any government entity for the multistakeholder process, or legislation that prohibits NTIA action to continue its long-held policy of transitioning management of the Internet Domain Name System (DNS) to the private sector until the GAO completes a report.”

The DOTCOM Act was added as a rider on the annual National Defense Authorization Act in a 245-177 vote, which attracted 17 Democrats.  GOP members of the Senate Commerce Committee, led by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), this week also called for a review of the Administration’s plan.  In a letter to the leaders of the committee, including Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), these Senators stated, “As this process unfolds and NTIA engages the global Internet community, it is imperative the Committee exercise its jurisdiction and conduct careful oversight on behalf of the American people to ensure Internet freedom is protected…. This announcement and the outcome of this proposed transition are too important for the Committee to remain silent.”

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: May 23, 2014