Committee Stands Up for Future of the Internet, Approves DOTCOM Act

May 8, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC – The House Energy and Commerce Committee today approved H.R. 4342, the Domain Openness Through Continued Oversight Matters Act, to require the Obama administration to pause on any changes regarding the future of the Internet and allow for an independent evaluation. The legislation, authored by Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL), was drafted in response to the administration’s requests that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) explore ways to remove the United States from its oversight role of the Domain Name System (DNS). H.R. 4342 would direct the Government Accountability Office to study the proposed changes and present a non-partisan evaluation before the administration may take action to modify the U.S. Role in the DNS.

“The DOTCOM Act is a question of domestic U.S. policy and ensures that NTIA pause to fully consider the implications and consequences of any proposal they are presented with,” said full Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI). “It would be irresponsible for Congress and the administration to ignore those hostile governments that have openly expressed their desire to seize and control the Internet. Once we transfer this role away, there is no going back. Taking the extra time to allow a GAO evaluation of any successor proposal should not be a partisan issue – and instead should be viewed as a step in this years-long transition. Protecting the core values of the Internet is a goal we all share, and this bill furthers that goal.”

“The DOTCOM Act is a smart, responsible, and necessary next step in our mission to keep the future of the Internet free, open and the thriving engine of economic activity and social connectivity that it has become,” said full committee Vice Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). “America cannot surrender leadership of the Internet to a multistakeholder model that could fall into the hands of oppressive foreign governments. The DOTCOM Act simply requires that an independent study of the consequences be undertaken before the administration moves forward. There are no do-overs in this fight to protect the future of the Internet. The stakes could not be higher.”

The committee also approved H.R. 4572, the STELA Reauthorization Act of 2014, bipartisan legislation that will ensure that 1.5 million subscribers in hard-to-reach areas continue to receive vital broadcast programming. Authored by Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR), full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), full committee Ranking Member Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), and Subcommittee Ranking Member Anna Eshoo (D-CA), the legislation will reauthorize STELA for a period of five years and make a number of targeted reforms to better meet the needs of today’s video marketplace. An amendment to H.R. 4572, sponsored by Reps. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), requiring a report on Designated Market Areas was also approved.

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