Release - Rokita and Colleagues Seek Review of Obama Plan to Relinquish U.S. Oversight of the Internet

Mar 27, 2014

March 27, 2014

Contact: Zach Zagar
Phone: (202) 225-5037
E-mail: zach.zagar@mail.house.gov

Rokita and Colleagues Seek Review of Obama Plan to Relinquish U.S. Oversight of the Internet

Washington, D.C. – Representatives Todd Rokita, John Shimkus (IL-15), and Marsha Blackburn (TN-7) introduced the Domain Openness Through Continued Oversight Matters (DOTCOM) Act today in response to the Department of Commerce announcement that the U.S. would relinquish its oversight of the Internet’s domain name system (DNS) to a poorly-defined ‘global Internet community.’  

“The internet is the single greatest economic machine created in the last 50 years and is a shining example of our American Exceptionalism,” said Rokita. “It is against our own national economic interest to relinquish control, especially without a clear path forward that will protect internet freedom and American interests.”

Shimkus echoed Rokita’s concerns as they relate to free speech. 

“In the month of March alone we’ve seen Russia block opposition websites, Turkey ban Twitter, China place new restrictions on online video, and a top Malaysian politician pledge to censor the Internet if he’s given the chance,” Shimkus said. “This isn’t a theoretical debate. There are real authoritarian governments in the world today who have no tolerance for the free flow of information and ideas. What possible benefit could come from giving the Vladimir Putins of the world a new venue to push their anti-freedom agendas?”

“We can’t let the Internet turn into another Russian land grab,” Blackburn added. “America shouldn’t surrender its leadership on the world stage to a ‘multistakeholder model’ that’s controlled by foreign governments. It’s imperative that this administration reports to Congress before they can take any steps that would turn over control of the Internet.”

The DOTCOM Act would prohibit the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) from turning over its domain name system oversight responsibilities pending a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report to Congress.

The report would include a discussion and analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of the change and address the national security concerns raised by relinquishing U.S. oversight. It would also require GAO to provide a definition of term ‘multistakeholder model' as used by NTIA with respect to Internet policymaking and governance.

Legislative text is attached.

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