A US House of Representatives committee has voted to de-fund the IANA transition process.
On Thursday, the House Appropriations Committee approved the fiscal year 2015 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill, which includes the $36.7 million budget for the NTIA’s running costs.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration is the part of the Department of Commerce responsible for oversight of the IANA functions, which it plans to relinquish.
The committee noted its “concern” at this prospect, and said that no money would be made available to fund this process. Notes to the appropriations bill (pdf) include the following text:
The Committee is concerned by NTIA’s announcement of its intent to transition certain Internet domain name functions to the global multistakeholder community. Any such transition represents a significant public policy change and should be preceded by an open and transparent process. In order for this issue to be considered more fully by the Congress, the recommendation for NTIA does not include any funds to carry out a transition of these functions. The Committee expects that NTIA will maintain the existing no-cost contract with ICANN throughout fiscal year 2015.
Other bills currently up for discussion in Congress would delay the IANA transition pending further review by the Government Accountability Office.
The appropriations bill has passed a committee vote, but it still has other legislative stages to pass through before it becomes law.
The US Congress is to investigate ICANN’s new top-level domains program next week.
The House Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet will hold an “ICANN Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLD) Oversight Hearing” on Wednesday May 4 at 10am local time.
The hearing has been called at the direction of the committee’s chairman, Rep. Bob Goodlatte.
The list of witnesses has yet to be published, but I’d be surprised if we don’t see a representative of the intellectual property lobby in attendance.
It will also be interesting to see who from ICANN is put forward to defend the new gTLD program.
ICANN is accustomed to being hauled over the coals on Capitol Hill every year or so, but I believe that this is the first time it has been subject to a US “oversight” hearing since it signed the Affirmation of Commitments in September 2009.
The AoC ostensibly separated ICANN from direct US control, in favor of a multi-stakeholder approach that gave voice to all national governments.