DOTCOM Bill Foes Seek Reid's Help

Proponents of the National Telecommunications & Information Administration's planned transition of key internet domain-naming functions to a multistakeholder model warned Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (pictured) (D-Nev.) of the House effort to derail the handoff.

In a letter to Reid, Public Knowledge and a half-dozen other groups voiced their concerns about an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which is essentially identical to the DOTCOM Act. That is the bill sponsored by Republican Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), who also authored the amendment, that would require a GAO report on the implications of the handoff before it could be affected.

Backers of the bill say it is just a trust and verify step to make sure the transition is not abetting foreign governments interested in controlling the web, backers, like signatories to the letter, say the amendment and DOTCOM Act "would effectively stop the NTIA from upholding it's commitment to the global internet governance multi-stakeholder approach," an approach they say sets the example of no single government controlling the Internet.

"Those who drafted the DOTCOM Act expressed concerns that the multi-stakeholder approach would open the door to internet governance by authoritarian regimes. However, the DOTCOM Act could have the opposite effect in empowering nations seeing greater governmental control of the internet," Public Knowledge and company said.

They want Reid to oppose the Shimkus amendment in the final bill, and oppose "other efforts to block this transfer," arguing the transfer is a way to reassure the world that the U.S. is committed to an open Internet.

Those other efforts include an amendment attached to another must-pass bill, a Commerce Department appropriations bill (NTIA is a part of Commerce), that would block the transfer altogether by blocking any Commerce funding for the hand-off. That amendment was part of the House version of that appropriations bill that passed last week.

The Senate version of that bill is scheduled to be brought to the floor this week.

John Eggerton

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.