US Senate & House Chairs Double Down! Calls to reconsider IANA Transition, Writes to AG Loretta Lynch

U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.), Senate Committee on the Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) today, in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, raised numerous concerns about plans for the Obama Administration to cede authority over the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions managed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and called for reconsideration of the transition, currently set to occur on October 1, 2016.

“The transition of the IANA functions to the global multi-stakeholder community is a serious, groundbreaking, and potentially unalterable action,” said the four chairmen in the letter to Lynch and Pritzker. “We have closely examined the arguments for and against the proposed transition, including concerns about whether the transition could enhance the role of authoritarian regimes in Internet governance. In particular, we have heard from witnesses testifying to concerns that important accountability measures have yet to be fully fleshed out, tested, or proven, because they will not have been implemented prior to September 30, 2016.”

In addition to concerns about the status of accountability reforms inside ICANN, the four chairmen also cited recent violations of ICANN’s own bylaws by board members, questions about the application of anti-trust laws, the potential for an independent ICANN to move outside the jurisdiction of the United States, and unfinished work by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) in determining the legal authority for the federal government to relinquish its current role in IANA functions without express authorization from Congress.

The letter mentioned recent IRP win of  Dot Registry LLC, A Kansas company which applied for the gTLDs .llc, .llp, and .inc as a “Community” applicant and became the second new gTLD winner in the ICANN Independent Review process IRP (Dot Registry, LLC v. ICANN (.INC/.LLC/.LLP)). DotConnectAfrica won the first new gTLD IRP for the .Africa domain in 2015. DotRegistry has also filed for an Amicus Curiae Brief in support of Appellee .Africa Applicant DCA Trust who has taken ICANN to court and won two injunctions (temporary, March 4th 2016 and preliminary, April 12, 2016) that have rendered .Africa domain un-delegated.

“There is a broad range of important questions on both law and policy that remain outstanding with respect to the proposed transfer of the IANA functions to ICANN and the global multi-stakeholder community. We call on you to address the questions and concerns detailed above and to reconsider the Administration’s current plans to transition the IANA functions on October 1, 2016.”

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) also  spoke on the Senate floor, outlining the possible dangers of the Obama administration’s radical proposal to relinquish oversight of the Internet to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), scheduled to take place on October 1, and urging Congress to stop the giveaway before it’s too late. Specifically, Sen. Cruz detailed the risks of increasing the influence of countries like Russia, China, and Iran over the Internet, such as censorship of speech and uncertainty of the .gov and .mil top-level domains. Sen. Cruz also took time during his speech to memorialize conservative leader Phyllis Schlafly, who passed away on Monday.

The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce exercise principal jurisdiction over the Department of Commerce. The Senate Committee on the Judiciary and the House Judiciary Committee exercise jurisdiction over the Department of Justice.

Click here for a copy of the letter from Thune, Grassley, Upton, and Goodlatte to Lynch and Pritzker.

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