Yesterday, the Open Technology Institute at New America Foundation, Public Knowledge, Access, Center for Democracy & Technology, Freedom House, and Human Rights Watch, ahead of the April 10th hearing “Should The Department Of Commerce Relinquish Direct Oversight Over ICANN?”, sent a letter to the House Judiciary Committee restating their support of the NTIA’s decision to transition key Internet domain name functions to the global multi-stakeholder community and the organizations’ concerns regarding the DOTCOM Act. The DOTCOM Act is a piece of legislation that was introduced this past March that would require a Government Accountability Office review and report prior to the NTIA transition, a process that could take up to a year.
As introduced the DOTCOM Act could call into question Congress’ previously unanimous and bipartisan commitment to the multistakeholder processes and could further empower critics who favor a governmental or intergovernmental model of internet governance.
In this regard, Brett Solomon, Executive Director of Access said, “In holding up this transition, the DOTCOM Act only serves to empower the opponents of the open internet. Congress should let this transition to the global multistakeholder community move forward carefully, but without delay.”
“Until now, the United States had two major assets in the global debates over Internet Governance. First, as a nation, we stood united in our policies, so that our opponents could not divide us internally. Second, our allies knew they could trust our commitment to the multistakeholder process, giving us a tremendous reserve of credibility and good will,” said Harold Feld, Senior Vice President of Public Knowledge. “This partisan legislation dramatically undermines both these assets. If this legislation moves forward, our ability to protect Internet Freedom will be weaker, not stronger.”
Kevin Bankston, Policy Director of the Open Technology Institute at New America, echoed Solomon’s worries stating, “The DOTCOM Act, which seeks to block the transition in the name of human rights, would ironically empower nations that do not respect human rights and that are using the United States’ historic role in the Internet’s management as an argument for the United Nations to step into Internet governance. We share the DOTCOM Act sponsors’ goal of a free and open Internet, but the bill actually threatens that goal and plays into the hands of those who want to use the Internet as an instrument of political control rather than preserve it as a global platform for free expression.”
To read the letter sent by the groups, please click here.
To read Carolina Rossini’s prepared testimony in a related hearing, please click here.