GOP pursues questions about Obama administration’s ICANN transition plan

Tech companies and Internet activist groups applauded when the Obama administration announced it would hand over oversight of ICANN, the non-profit that oversees the Internet naming process, to an international governing body. But Republicans raised concerns, and the transition may become a 2014 mid term issue, as we wrote a few weeks ago.

Republicans are considering a measure to stop the process until the Government Accountability Office can weigh in, reports Politico. In the House, telecom chairman Greg Walden said at a House subcommittee hearing Wednesday that the bill is worthy of consideration. He echoed others’ concerns that foreign governments may assert themselves to gain more control of the Internet.

“If there are not sufficient safeguards in place to prevent foreign government intrusion, then this concept should go no further,” said Walden.

Meanwhile, the Senate GOP, led by Sens. John Thune and Marco Rubio, have sent a letter to the Obama administration with a bunch of questions about the transition, Politico reports.

Bloomberg BNA’s Thomas O’Toole provided a round up of opinions on the transition.

Despite the administration’s reassurances that there would be no government control over the Internet, there are concerns that the U.N. would not only end up overseeing ICANN but could issue some sort of tax, wrote Karl Borden, a University of Nebraska professor of finance in a Wall Street Journal op-ed:

All this would start modestly, of course, and it would never be called a tax. Instead, it might begin with a small fee associated with access to an obscure technical mechanism, or a small transaction charge for certain types of traffic.

But Larry Strickling, the NTIA director, said the administration won’t accept a “government-led or inter-governmental organizations solution.” And, “there is sufficient time for stakeholders to work through the ICANN-convened process to develop an acceptable transition proposal.”


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