Internet shift deserves 'rigorous scrutiny,' says Republican member of FCC

Ajit Pai, a Republican member of the Federal Communications Commission, is calling on Congress to closely monitor the recently announced change in Internet governance.

"If I am not convinced that a different governance structure would preserve Internet freedom. I will strongly oppose it," he said.

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Late last week, the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration announced it would begin a process to transition out of its oversight role of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, which manages the technical side of the Web address system.

The Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers, which manages assignments of domain names, will convene Internet stakeholders to craft proposals about which entity should manage the technical Web address system.

Those applauding the move say it would result in a more globally governed Internet, while critics worry it would give other countries a chance to impose restrictions on the open and global nature of the Internet.

In a statement Tuesday, Pai echoed those concerns and called on Congress to monitor the transition.

"The current multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance has been a tremendous success," he said. "Any proposal to change that model therefore demands rigorous scrutiny, including close congressional oversight."

Specifically, Pai referenced concerns about foreign governments attempting to impose limitations on the open Internet.

"Those advocating change must prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that their proposals would not increase the influence of repressive foreign governments over the Internet," he said.