The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Keeping Internet Governance in the U.S.

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


On March 14, 2014, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) would not renew its contract to oversee the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in September 2015.  The announcement called into question what governing body would provide the necessary oversight of the organization in order to prevent another government from taking control of the Internet.

The ICANN role in the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) function is among the roles that are currently governed by the NTIA.  This role sets the Internet numbers and naming conventions used around the world, including the generic top level domain names (gTLD).  These are the .com, .biz, .edu, .org, individuals see when they are looking for websites.  The gTLDs also include .gov and .mil, which are used exclusively by the U.S. government.  However, there are countries with more restrictive regimes, including China and Russia, which would like nothing more than to see the U.S. give away its responsibilities over the Internet.

On June 23, 2015, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 805, the Domain Openness Through Continued Oversight Matters Act (DOTCOM Act), which would require the administration to pause on any changes regarding the future of the Internet, and allows for an independent evaluation prior to any action by the Department of Commerce to relinquish control of ICANN, and its IANA functions.

On August 17, 2015, the Department of Commerce announced that it would delay the transition of its role in ICANN for another year, continuing its current role in the IANA functions until September 30, 2016.  However, as the deadline looms closer, concerns still remain about the future of the U.S. role with ICANN. 

On June 8, 2016, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) introduced S. 3034, the Protecting Internet Freedom Act, which would prohibit the NTIA from terminating the ICANN contract for IANA functions, unless specifically authorized by Congress to do so.  The legislation would also ensure that the U.S. government remained in exclusive control over the .gov and .mil gTLD, which are critical to the nation’s national security.  In addition, the legislation requires the Department of Commerce to certify in writing that the U.S. government has sole ownership of these critical domains, and that it enters into a contract with ICANN to retain exclusive control and use of those domains in perpetuity.

In noting support for Senator Cruz’s initiative, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste President Tom Schatz, stated, “Relinquishing U.S. control over ICANN and its freedom-preserving functions is perilous not just for America, but for the world.  The Congress – not the bureaucracy – should have final say on whether control over the Internet is ceded to any foreign entity.”

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