Representatives John Shimkus (R-Illinois-15), Todd Rokita (R-Indiana-4), and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee-7) commented on the introduction of the Domain Openness Through Continued Oversight Matters (DOTCOM) Act today. The DOTCOM Act is in response the recent Department of Commerce announcement that the U.S. would relinquish its remaining oversight of the Internet's domain name system to an ill-defined "global Internet community.'
"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?"
Russia and China have sought such a venue in the past through the United Nation's International Telecommunication Union (ITU). According to Russian state-funded media, "a takeover of the Internet by a UN supranational agency" would aim to "standardize the behavior of countries concerning information and cyberspace."
"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."
"We can't let the Internet turn into another Russian land grab," Blackburn said. "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."
"While I've been told the administration won't move to a "multistakeholder model' that could compromise the openness of the Internet today, they need to explain to Congress and the American people how they'll guarantee the new "multistakeholder regime' won't be influenced by foreign governments or the ITU tomorrow," Shimkus added. "We have to consider the long-term implications of relinquishing our oversight role because once it's gone, it's gone for good."
Specifically, 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.
Representatives Joe Barton (R-Texas-6), Renee Ellmers (R-North Carolina-2) and Bob Latta (R-Ohio-5) and are also original cosponsors of the DOTCOM Act.