House adopts proposal to halt Internet oversight shift

The House early Friday adopted a proposal to limit the administration's ability to advance with plans to cede certain management of Internet domains.

Passed 229-178, Rep. Sean Duffy's (R-Wis.) amendment to the 2015 Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill would prohibit the use of funds to relinquish the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's (NTIA) responsibility of assigning Internet domains.

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The NTIA, which is housed within the Commerce Department, announced in March that it would step away from its oversight role of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, which coordinates IP addresses and other Internet protocols.

Duffy said the decision could give oppressive governments, like China, an opportunity to seize control of the Internet.

"By relinquishing our core functions to a foreign body, I don't think we will retain the current system of the Internet and the current rights of freedom of speech that the Internet currently enjoys," Duffy said. "I think it's important that this institution use its control of the purse strings to limit the president's authority to transfer those core functions to this foreign body."

But Rep. Chaka Fattah (Pa.), the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science subcommittee, said that Duffy's amendment would not have the intended effect. He argued that relinquishing the NTIA's authority would instead lead to a more open Internet.

"This is a process that started 16 years ago," Fattah said. "I oppose the knee-jerk, irresponsible actions that would suggest to China and others that we want to control the Internet."

Kate Tummarello contributed.

 

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