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House Bill Blocks Internet Naming Oversight Handoff

An appropriations bill is getting pushback from the Obama Administration and some in Congress for a provision that would block the National Telecommunications and Information Administration hand-off of oversight of Internet domain naming functions (the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority or IANA) to a multistakeholder model.

The Republican-backed Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 2578) drew immediate negative reviews from the office of Management and Budget.

"The Administration strongly objects to the provision that prevents the National Telecommunications and Information Administration from using funds to relinquish its responsibility with respect to internet domain name system functions, a commitment the U.S. Government made more than a decade ago," OMB said. "The successful transition of these functions would facilitate a free and open internet managed through a multi-stakeholder governance structure."

Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), who represents Silicon Valley, was none too pleased, either.

"Since NTIA’s announcement, the multi-stakeholder community has stepped up to the plate to craft a transition proposal and enhanced accountability measures needed in the absence of U.S. government stewardship," she said. " NTIA has articulated specific criteria for the transition proposal and made clear that any plan must advance our vision of a free and open Internet..."

"H.R. 2578 includes language that blocks NTIA from using funds to relinquish the IANA functions. This limitation of funds is not only unnecessary, it sends the wrong message to the international community. Our diplomats point to the IANA transition announcement as a key factor helping us win allies and support for an Internet free of government control. As the U.S. Chamber of Commerce stated, this funding restriction 'could result in harm to U.S. businesses and Internet users as a whole.'”

She said that while she opposes the provision, she supports insuring the transition is careful and transparent and pledges to work with her colleagues.

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.