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House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte has publicly supported a bill seeking to block ICANN from using government funds to hand over certain internet functions to an international multi-stakeholder organisation.
His intervention comes as the House of Representatives passed the Fiscal Year 2016 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill, which outlined funding for various US government departments, including the Department of Justice and the Department of Science, until September 2016.
However, the bill included a provision that such funds would not be used by ICANN in its transition of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions.
The bill passed the House with a 242-183 majority last week, and yesterday, June 8, the bill was introduced to the Senate.
Goodlatte welcomed the provision in the bill that prevents funds going towards the transition, first explaining that “the Obama administration’s proposal to transition stewardship in overseeing the management of the internet away from the US to an international body has kicked off high-profile debates”.
He added: “While the proposed transition has raised numerous questions, the administration has been less than forthcoming with answers. The administration maintains that ICANN is capable of such a transition but the evidence indicates that this is simply not the case.
“Given all the concerns over the proposed transition of the internet domain system to ICANN, the funding prohibition included in the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill is necessary to halt this flawed policy from the Obama administration.”
Last year, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration announced it intended to transfer the management of the IANA functions from ICANN, with which it holds a contract, to a global multi-stakeholder organisation. ICANN has been handed the task of transferring the functions.
But recently ICANN has come under scrutiny from some quarters over its ability to handle the transition. Mei-lan Stark, former president of the International Trademark Association and who was attending a House subcommittee hearing last month on accountability structures at ICANN, said the “critical framework required for a successful transition of the IANA function does not yet exist”.
ICANN had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication, but TBO will update the story should the organisation respond.
Bob Goodlatte; Fiscal Year 2016 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill; ICANN; IANA; National Telecommunications and Information Administration