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DotCom Act Breezes Through House Subcommittee

In only a few minutes, and with applause all around, the House Communications Subcommittee favorably and unanimously reported out a new version of the DotCom Act, a bill that provides a framework for congressional oversight of the transition of the Internet domain naming function from U.S. oversight to a multistakeholder model.

The act had drawn hefty criticism from Democrats since its introduction last year, but the two sides worked out a compromise that  preserved Congress' oversight role without unduly delaying the hand-off.

As recently as three weeks ago, in a hearing on the bill and the handoff, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), ranking member of the subcommittee, said it would unnecessarily delay the handover and send the wrong signal about government control to other countries.

She was sounding a different note in her opening statement at Wednesday's (June 10) markup, calling a vote for the revised DotCom Act "a vote to carry on the extraordinary success story that is the Internet, ensuring that billions of people around the world will continue to benefit from everything it has to offer."

As amended, the bill would:

• "Require the administration to submit to Congress a report certifying that the transition plans meet the United States’ objective of global Internet openness;

• "Require NTIA to certify that changes to ICANN’s bylaws that the multistakeholder process has required as conditions of the transition have been implemented;

• "Provide safeguards designed to make ICANN more accountable to the Internet community; and

• "Give Congress 30 legislative days to review NTIA’s report before NTIA is permitted to relinquish its role in IANA."

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.