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Second US bill would block IANA transition

Kevin Murphy, April 3, 2014, Domain Policy

Another bill has been introduced into the US Congress related to the IANA transition process, and this one would actually be dangerous if passed.

Rep Mike Kelly introduced the Internet Stewardship Act (pdf) to make the IANA transition a matter that requires Congressional legislation.

The press release announcing the bill is longer than the bill itself, which says just this:

NTIA PROHIBITED FROM RELINQUISHING DNS RESPONSIBILITIES.

The Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information may not relinquish or agree to relinquish the responsibilities of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration with respect to Internet domain name functions, including responsibility with respect to the authoritative root zone file, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority functions, or the related root zone management functions, unless such relinquishment is permitted by a statute enacted after the date of the enactment of this Act.

In other words, if this bill is enacted then another bill would be required in order for the NTIA to remove itself from root zone oversight.

Try to imagine a bill relinquishing control over the “critical internet functions” getting majority support in any national legislature.

Try to imagine it getting support in a national legislature that has more than its fair share of flag-waving nationalists and gung-ho xenophobes.

Try to imagine the Republican party in Congress allowing the Obama administration, which it despises, to ‘give away the internet’ to Vladimir Putin and theocratic Arab states, which is what a lot of commentators irrationally seem to think is happening.

It Kelly’s bill is passed, ICANN may as well kiss goodbye to ideas of independence from US oversight for the foreseeable future.

Fortunately, the bill is just a bill right now.