Wicker Comments on Proposed Transfer of Internet Domain Authority

Miss. Senator Says Proposal Needs Rigorous Oversight

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, today said that additional oversight might be needed before moving forward with a plan to abdicate certain aspects of U.S. governance over the Internet. Some argue that a lack of American involvement in the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) could empower foreign nations to gain increased control over critical Internet functions.

“The Administration’s proposal is not without risk,” Wicker said. “For example, relinquishing control of IANA authority to the global community could have an impact on the nation’s ability to combat cyberattacks. Questions also remain whether top-level domain names, such as .mil and .gov, will remain secure after the transition. There is a lot at stake with this proposed transition, so it is important to get it right.”

Two years ago, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced its intention to transition IANA functions from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to a global multi-stakeholder community. ICANN is currently responsible for allocating Internet IP addresses and domain names.

In March, ICANN put forward its transition proposal, which it developed with an international community of Internet stakeholders. NTIA set a target of 90 days to complete its review.

Wicker is a longtime supporter of a bottom-up, multi-stakeholder approach to Internet governance and has cautioned the Administration not to allow IANA functions to fall under the control of repressive governments, America’s enemies, or unaccountable bureaucrats.

He is also a cosponsor of the “DOTCOM Act,” S. 1551, which would provide oversight of NTIA’s implementation of the transition. That legislation was passed by the committee in June 2015 and awaits consideration by the full Senate.