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Strickling: Blocking IANA Transition Benefits Russia, China

National Telecommunications and Information Administration chief Larry Strickling has a message for Sen. Ted Cruz: "Do not give a gift to Russia and other authoritarian nations by blocking this transition."

That was is according to his prepared testimony for a hearing Wednesday (Sept. 14) in the Senate Judiciary Oversight Subcommittee--Cruz is chairman.

NTIA's contract expires at the end of this month as the Obama Administration transitions oversight of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), which deals with domain names, from the U.S. to a multistakeholder model.

Cruz has been trying to delay the transition and argues Congress needs to sign off first, arguing that the hand-off could mean handing power over the Internet to countries like Russia and China.

Strickling says it is "extreme and wrong" to claim the transition would be a giveaway to China or Russia, saying the contract is too limited to be a tool for protecting Internet freedom, while "failing to follow through on the transition or unilaterally extending the contract will only embolden authoritarian regimes to intensify their advocacy for government-led or intergovernmental management of the Internet via the United Nations."

"No one has set forth even a plausible scenario as to how that could happen, and the fact is it simply will not happen as a result of completing the transition," he plans to tell Cruz and the subcommittee. He says the suggestion that the handoff is a giveaway is one of the "misperceptions and outright misrepresentations" being circulated by its opponents.

Strickling's bottom line message: "The best and most effective way to preserve Internet freedom is to depend on the community of stakeholders who own and operate, transact business and exchange information over the myriad of networks that comprise the Internet."

He said the handoff plan meets the four key must-haves and that it wil

• "support and enhance the multistakeholder model of Internet governance;

• "maintain the security, stability, and resiliency of the Internet DNS;

• "meet the needs and expectations of the global customers and partners of the IANA services; and

• "maintain the openness of the Internet."

Tech and cable companies have been generally supportive of the hand-off so long as it delivers on those.