Funding Bill Would Delay Internet Oversight Transition

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By Joseph Wright

May 18 — An Obama administration initiative to end U.S. oversight of technical Internet functions would be blocked by language approved by a House Appropriations subcommittee May 18.

The House Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS) Subcommittee on Appropriations forwarded the 2017 CJS appropriations bill in the markup. Section 534 of the bill, which hasn't yet been numbered, would prohibit the National Telecommunications & Information Administration from expending funds to “relinquish the responsibility” over domain name system functions.

Appropriations legislation has included a substantively identical provision for the last two years (20 ECLR 1773, 12/23/15). But NTIA has taken the position that it may monitor, report on and review plans for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers to become a self-governing Internet overseer (20 ECLR 161, 2/4/15). With those plans on track for implementation at the end of the current fiscal year, the provision could derail a two-year initiative of the Commerce and State departments.

The Senate version of the bill doesn't contain the NTIA prohibition. The 2015 and 2016 fiscal year Senate appropriations bills didn't initially contain the provision, but it survived the reconciliation process.

ICANN has administered the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority functions under contract with the Commerce Department since 1998. Those functions define the naming, numbering and protocols that allow the Internet to operate. The provision also includes oversight of the authoritative root zone file, which is the comprehensive, decentralized database of Internet servers and sites.

NTIA is expected to conclude its review of ICANN's transition proposal in June or July.

To contact the reporter on this story: Joseph Wright in Washington at jwright@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Alexis Kramer at akramer@bna.com