HOME > NEWSROOM > ARTICLES > Internet Oversight Stirs Lawmakers

Internet Oversight Stirs Lawmakers

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s announcement that it is planning to relinquish its longtime oversight role over the Internet’s basic structure has stirred much questioning on Capitol Hill, particularly from Republican lawmakers. In particular, Members of Congress are concerned by the potential for a foreign government to attempt to fill the vacuum and undermine Internet freedom.

While the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has long supervised the assignment of Internet Protocol (IP) addresses and domain names, the agency announced last month its intention to transition that authority to the global private sector. 

In a hearing before the Communications Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Chairman Walden noted that NTIA had alarmed a broad spectrum of leaders, from former President Bill Clinton to his old adversary, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Chairman Walden signaled his own wariness, “Make no mistake; threats to the openness and freedom of the Internet are real…. If there are not sufficient safeguards in place to prevent foreign government intrusion, then this concept should go no further. Even with these guarantees, I remain concerned about the opportunities for abuse.”

In addition, in a letter to the NTIA led by Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), 35 Republican Senators declared, “We strongly support the existing bottom-up, multistakeholder approach to Internet governance that has led to immense prosperity and empowerment for individuals around the world…. Replacing NTIA’s role with another governmental organization would be disastrous, and we would vigorously oppose such a plan. We must not allow the IANA [“Internet Assigned Numbers Authority”] functions to fall under the control of repressive governments, America’s enemies, or unaccountable bureaucrats.”

House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA), however, had a different perspective. “This Committee should monitor NTIA’s and ICANN’s efforts closely, but we must resist the calls for reactionary legislation that would needlessly tie the hands of the agency,” he said. “Not only are these efforts inconsistent with Congress’ longstanding and bipartisan support for the multistakeholder model, they also send a dangerous signal to the rest of the world that we lack faith in the existing multistakeholder system.”

  • Find the video and written testimony from this week’s hearing here.  
  • Learn more details about this subject from the Committee’s hearing memo

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: April 4, 2014

Latest News

House Attention to Low-Power, Satellite Television Legislation

NRB members with television ministries may be particularly interested in two happenings this week in the House of Representatives.

NRB Opposes Administration Intolerance

This week the President made good on his promise to LGBT activists to issue an ENDA-like Executive Order applying to federal contractors. Unfortunately, despite widespread concern and...

The Internet Road to Nowhere

Last week, in the detailed comment that NRB filed with the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) on the issue of Internet regulation, this question was raised: What would it profit America to gain the world of digital innovation if, in the process, we end up losing our First Amendment soul?

Persecuted Sudanese Christian Mother Free

Aided by the Italian government, Meriam Ibrahim, her husband, and two young children successfully exited Sudan this week.

NRB 2015 Media Awards: Less Than 2 Weeks Left to Enter!

NRB is currently accepting nominations for the 2015 Annual Media Awards and will be doing so until August 4, 2014. A longstanding hallmark of NRB, the awards program remains one of the association's most valued traditions.

Exhibit Space at the NRB15 Int’l Christian Media Convention Available Now! Get Yours Today!

Want to place your company or ministry in front of thousands of decision-makers in an ever-growing industry? Then consider exhibiting at NRB’s 2015 International Christian Media Convention.

Available Now: Your Organization's Own Private Lounge or Suite at the NRB 2015 Convention!

Need a temporary headquarters for your organization during the NRB 2015 International Christian Media Convention? Then a Hospitality Lounge is for you!

Christian Radio Veteran Barry Armstrong to Head Victory Radio Network

Longtime Christian radio leader and Spirit FM co-founder Barry Armstrong has been called out of retirement to lead Liberty University’s Victory Radio Network as General Manager.

Senate Democrats Try to Torpedo Hobby Lobby Ruling

Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, President & CEO of NRB, had some choice words for Planned Parenthood and others working to radically undermine religious liberty in the Senate this week.

Congressman Calls Out FCC on Broadcast Indecency Enforcement

Congressman James Lankford (R-OK) put the FCC on notice that he was displeased with the Commission’s enforcement against indecency on the broadcast airwaves.

More News