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Upton, Subcommittee Work to Preserve Internet Freedom

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Washington, DC, April 10, 2014 | Lynn Turner / Nick Culp (269-385-0039 / 202-225-3761) | comments
Upton: “The DOTCOM Act is a deliberate and transparent next step in this effort to ensure that freedom remains the principal tenet of the Internet.”
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Click here to watch Upton’s remarks

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, today joined fellow members of the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology in advancing legislation aimed at ensuring that freedom and openness remain principal tenets of the Internet. H.R. 4342, the Domain Openness Through Continued Oversight Matters (DOTCOM) Act of 2014, was drafted in response to the Obama administration’s recent proposal that asks the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to explore ways to remove the United States from its oversight role of the Domain Name System (DNS). The DOTCOM Act would direct the Government Accountability Office – the U.S. government’s “watchdog” – to study the proposed changes and present a non-partisan evaluation before the administration may take action to modify the current DNS.

“One of America’s greatest exports is our steadfast belief in freedom of speech, and the Internet has allowed us to share this ideal with the rest of the world. But as we all work to bring the Internet to people around the globe, there are governments and regimes that continue to restrict their citizens’ access to its vast information and communication tools,” said Upton in his opening remarks.

“The Internet changed the world, and we must ensure the world does not change the Internet.”

Currently, ICANN, a private nonprofit organization, manages a number of critical “back end” underpinnings of the Internet, such as Internet Protocol (IP) addressing and the DNS. The U.S. government – through the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) – holds a stewardship role over the DNS by virtue of a contractual relationship with ICANN.

On March 14, 2014, NTIA announced a proposal instructing ICANN to explore ways to remove the United States from its oversight role of the DNS and replace it with a different multi-stakeholder governance model. Before moving forward, the DOTCOM Act seeks a full assessment of the proposed changes and the possible consequences of such a transition to Internet freedom and openness.

Last spring, Upton joined his House colleagues in voting unanimously to pass the bipartisan Internet Freedom Bill (H.R. 1580), which affirms U.S. policy to preserve a free and open Internet. That legislation still awaits action in the Senate.

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