FUNDING BLOCKED FOR OBAMA ADMINISTRATION’S ASSAULT ON FIRST AMENDMENT …
By ROBERT ROMANO || “None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to relinquish the responsibility of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration during fiscal year 2015 with respect to Internet domain name system functions, including responsibility with respect to the authoritative root zone file and the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority functions.”
That is section 540 of the more than $1 trillion omnibus spending bill for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2015, which defunds the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) from transitioning Internet governance to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
The provision mirrors a 229-178 House vote on May 30 that denied funding to the Obama administration to perform the transition. That amendment was offered by Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wisc.) to the Department of Commerce appropriations bill.
Now it is going to become law, which will undoubtedly mean that, once adopted by the House and Senate, NTIA will have to renew its current contract with ICANN for another two years.
It will be the first assertion of Congressional prerogative over Internet governance since 1998, when Congress defunded the National Science Foundation’s administration the system in a rider to the Foundation’s appropriations: “That none of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available to the National Science Foundation in this or any prior Act may be obligated or expended by the National Science Foundation to enter into or extend a grant, contract, or cooperative agreement for the support of administering the domain name and numbering system of the Internet after September 30, 1998.”
Including the Duffy rider in the omnibus might be the only way to keep First Amendment protections on Internet governance. As a U.S. government contractor, ICANN cannot engage in censorship. Freed of the contract and government oversight, which expires on September 30, 2015, and it would have become a real possibility.
This is a huge deal. No less so than because under the Article IV of the Constitution, only “Congress shall have power to dispose of … property belonging to the United States,” which the Commerce Department contract with ICANN enumerates: “All deliverables under this contract become the property of the U.S. Government.”
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