Obama's Internet Giveaway Threatened in House

Obama's Internet Giveaway Threatened in House

For years, conservative activists have prodded the House of Representatives to use their unique Constitutional power of the purse to rein in Obama Administration excesses. This week, the U.S. House of Representatives is doing just that through a series of amendments that will be considered to the bill that appropriates money for the Departments of Commerce and Justice, along with other science related agencies.

One particularly important rider is being offered by Representative Sean Duffy (R-WI). The Duffy amendment prohibits the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) from using any funds to relinquish the responsibility over the Internet domain name system functions.

In basic terms, Duffy’s amendment stops funding the Internet giveaway to unknown international governments, corporations, and advocacy groups that President Obama’s Commerce Department is actively conducting.

Here is a little background on how we got to this point.

On March 14, the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) issued a press release stating its intent to “transition key Internet domain name functions to the global multi-stakeholder community” from its current contractor, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

The Administration’s plan is to “transition the current role played by NTIA in the coordination of the Internet’s domain name system (DNS)” to “global stakeholders” — without any vote in Congress.

Administering the DNS is the key function that associates easy-to-remember domain names to numerical Internet Protocol (IP) addresses — the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) — an essential component to making the Internet work.

In the 1990s, the Clinton Administration let a contract to ICANN to oversee and manage these critical functions, a contract that is allowed only under very circumstances per the U.S. code. Under the existing contract, the Commerce Department retains the right to terminate ICANN’s contract and to replace ICANN if necessary. When ICANN’s contract with the federal government expires in 2015, as a government contractor, it will no longer possess the authority to administer DNS. That will remain with the federal government. It is important to note that former President Clinton has publicly opposed the Obama plan to transfer these functions outside of U.S. control.

The Duffy rider to the CSJ appropriations bill stops funding for this planned giveaway of the contracting authority to an international multi-stakeholder group. This stops action by the Obama Administration in its tracks and preserves the current system, ensuring the federal government administration of DNS and IANA functions and affording constitutional, free speech protections for everyone that hosts a website.

If these functions are transferred to an international body, those First Amendment protections will cease, and the web as we know it will be permanently transformed.

Just last week, the House acted to slow the planned giveaway by passing a rider to the National Defense Authorization Act that stalls it until a GAO report is completed. However, this tepid action only makes sense if coupled with the tougher Duffy amendment that forces Obama’s team working on the giveaway to stop all of their activity as well. 

This week, the House of Representatives will vote on the future governance of the Internet due to the courage of Sean Duffy to bring this amendment to the floor. 

If Duffy succeeds, the Senate will need to act as well, but that is a battle for another day.

Rick Manning is vice president of public policy and communications for Americans for Limited Government – To take action opposing Obama’s internet giveaway go to: http://netrightdaily.com/action/stop-international-takeover-internet/


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