Bipartisan amendement to DOTCOM responds to stakeholder concerns

While the majority of stakeholders support transitioning oversight of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) from NTIA to the multistakeholder community, those same stakeholders want to ensure that the best multistakeholder governance processes are enshrined in the organizations that will be responsible for oversight after the transition.   Some stakeholders are concerned that the U.S. Administration will be politically motivated to complete the transition quickly, regardless of the final package. Others are concerned that Congress will anger the global community, including governments; by indefinitely delaying the transition to the detriment of U.S. based companies operating overseas. But, everyone wants the same things: 1) a reliable, trustworthy, stable and global Internet infrastructure; and, 2) accountability for the entity(s) executing the functions that comprise the IANA, namely the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

During last month’s House hearing on the IANA transition, I, along with the other panelists, expressed concern about the DOTCOM Act. The primary concern was the one-year delay to allow for another GAO study. Several panelists testified that this approach would likely fuel international rhetoric about U.S. extraordinary power in Internet governance in contrast with clear Congressional support for multistakeholder governance processes.

Thanks to the work of the Committee, a bipartisan amendment to the bill adopted today takes a more constructive and responsible approach to meeting the goal that nearly everyone shares: a trustworthy, stable and global Internet with globally accountable governance institutions. The amendment requires NTIA to certify that that transition proposal meets the criteria outlined in the transition announcement and that the accountability reforms for ICANN, recommended by the multistakeholder community, are implemented. It also gives Congress a reasonable timeframe – 30 days – to review NTIA’s report.

In my testimony, I expressed Intel’s support for a timely transition – one in which the timeframe is not externally or unilaterally dictated but also not unnecessarily rushed. This new bipartisan DOTCOM Act supports and reaffirms multistakeholder processes while assuaging concerns that the U.S. will act hastily or irresponsibly. It provides a mechanism for Congress to conduct the appropriate oversight over NTIA in defense of the global multistakeholder community. Continued transparency in the transition process and continued participation from all stakeholders remains critical as we complete the final phase of the transition.