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Senate Commerce to Mark Up DOTCOM Act June 25

The Senate Commerce Committee has scheduled a markup for Thursday on the DOTCOM Act. That is the Senate version of the bipartisan House bill, which breezed through the House Energy & Commerce Committee last week and has the support of major cable and telco industry players and online content providers. (That House version is slated to get a vote in the full House sometime this week).

Markups are executive sessions at which committees amend — if there are any amendments — then vote to favorably recommend the bill, or not recommend it, for a vote by the full House.

The DOTCOM Act would buttress congressional oversight of the handoff of Internet domain naming functions from a U.S-overseen model to a multistakeholder one, while not unduly delaying the handoff.

That is, any more than it will already be delayed. One takeaway from congressional hearings on the handoff was that both sides pretty much agreed that the handoff of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) to a multistakeholder model won't be ready by the Sept. 30, 2015 expiration date of the current contract with ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), a nonprofit created by the U.S. in 1997.

The Senate version of the bill also has bipartisan support. Its sponsors include Commerce chairman John Thune (R-S.D.), ranking member Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Sen Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Democrat Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

“The proposed legislation, S. 1551, the DOTCOM Act, strikes a thoughtful balance between having the multi-stakeholder process continue to determine how best to handle the IANA transition and related changes to ICANN, while recognizing the need for appropriate and timely Congressional oversight," the Internet Governance Coalition said in a statement. "This is a particularly important period in the Internet's evolution, and the proposed legislation affirms the guiding principles that have been at the core of the Internet's extraordinary growth during the past two decades.”

Coalition members include Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Google, Fox, NBC, Disney, Amazon and Facebook.

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.