The House of Representatives voted 5/22 to protect the future of the Internet by agreeing to Rep. John Shimkus’ (R-IL) amendment to the National Defense Authorization bill that mirrors language from the Domain Openness Through Continued Oversight Matters (DOTCOM) Act of 2014. Shimkus drafted the DOTCOM Act in response to the Obama administration’s announcement in March that it would be pursuing a process that could remove the United States from its oversight role of critical Internet functions.
“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,” said full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI). “Including the DOTCOM Act in this must-pass legislation is the right decision as we continue pushing for the administration to hit the pause button and allow for independent review before it makes any move to relinquish NTIA’s oversight role of critical Internet functions.”
“For over two decades, U.S. oversight of the Internet’s domain name system has kept the global Internet free and open. Though dismissed by NTIA as merely a ‘clerical’ role of assigning and matching domain names with IP addresses, U.S. stewardship of these basic functions has prevented authoritarian governments from censoring content or restricting access to websites beyond their own borders,” added Shimkus. “While the administration says it won’t accept a proposal that puts the Internet in the hands of another government or government-led entity, there’s no guarantee that won’t happen after the initial transfer takes place. But one thing is for sure: once our authority is gone, it’s gone for good.”
The amendment requires that the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office study any potential consequences before the administration may take action. The DOTCOM Act, which was co-sponsored by ten members of the Energy and Commerce Committee, was approved by the full committee on 5/8.