House Votes to Block ICANN Handoff

House passage of the 2015 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations Act last week included an amendment that would effectively prevent the National Telecommunications & Information Administration's planned hand-off to a multistakeholder model of some oversight of the ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) Internet domain naming system.

Democrats say that is a mostly ceremonial function, that the plan has always been to transfer that to a multistakeholder model, and that not to do so sends the wrong signal about single-government authority over the Internet.

Republicans, with the support of some Democrats, have proposed not to give the administration carte blanche to make the transfer without the NTIA plan getting a vetting from the Government Accountability Office. An amendment to that effect was added to a defense appropriations bill. But the just-passed amendment to the CJS bill (NTIA is part of Commerce) would block the handoff, period, by refusing to fund it.

The amendment, which passed 229 to 178 last week, would prohibit any funding "to relinquish the responsibility of NTIA with respect to Internet domain name system functions, including responsibility with respect to the authoritative root zone file and the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority functions."

The bill now goes to the Senate (by law, all appropriations bills originate in the House).

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.