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113th Congress Report
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
2d Session 113-715
DOMAIN OPENNESS THROUGH CONTINUED OVERSIGHT MATTERS ACT OF 2014
December 23, 2014.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on
the State of the Union and ordered to be printed
Mr. Upton, from the Committee on Energy and Commerce, submitted the
R E P O R T
[To accompany H.R. 4342]
[Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]
The Committee on Energy and Commerce, to whom was referred
the bill (H.R. 4342) to prohibit the National
Telecommunications and Information Administration from
relinquishing responsibility over the Internet domain name
system until the Comptroller General of the United States
submits to Congress a report on the role of the NTIA with
respect to such system, having considered the same, report
favorably thereon without amendment and recommend that the bill
Purpose and Summary.............................................. 2
Background and Need for Legislation.............................. 2
Committee Consideration.......................................... 4
Committee Votes.................................................. 4
Committee Oversight Findings..................................... 7
Statement of General Performance Goals and Objectives............ 7
New Budget Authority, Entitlement Authority, and Tax Expenditures 7
Earmark, Limited Tax Benefits, and Limited Tariff Benefits....... 7
Committee Cost Estimate.......................................... 7
Congressional Budget Office Estimate............................. 7
Federal Mandates Statement....................................... 8
Duplication of Federal Programs.................................. 8
Disclosure of Directed Rule Makings.............................. 8
Advisory Committee Statement..................................... 8
Applicability to Legislative Branch.............................. 8
Section-by-Section Analysis of the Legislation................... 9
Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported............ 9
Minority Views................................................... 10
PURPOSE AND SUMMARY
H.R. 4342, the ``Domain Openness Through Continued
Oversight Matters (DOTCOM) Act of 2014,'' promotes
accountability and transparency in the transition of oversight
of domain name functions away from the National
Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The
legislation prohibits NTIA from relinquishing their role until
the Government Accountability Office completes a report on the
facts and consequences of any transition proposal considered by
BACKROUND AND NEED FOR LEGISLATION
What we now know as the Internet began as an experimental
network designed and managed by the U.S. Defense Advanced
Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Since the time the Internet
was opened for commercial participation in 1992, the U.S.
government has worked to reduce its involvement in governing
the Internet when appropriate. As part of that process, the
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a
non-profit U.S. corporation, began managing the Internet
Assigned Names and Numbers Authority (IANA) under contract with
NTIA. The terms of the contract gave NTIA a role overseeing and
approving changes proposed by IANA to the DNS root zone files.
While the role has been described by some as administrative,
the backstop of the government has been an important and
effective measure for keeping both the process and potential
bad actors in check.
On March 14, 2014, NTIA announced its intention to
transition its oversight of the Internet DNS root zone
functions, currently performed by IANA, to the global multi-
stakeholder community. The existing contract between the U.S.
government and ICANN expires in September 2015, although the
contract provides for additional renewal periods.
In order to facilitate the transition, NTIA asked the
global multistakeholder community to generate a proposal for a
successor solution to the role of the government in the IANA
functions. According to NTIA, any proposal should garner wide
community support. In seeking proposals, NTIA also set forth
the following criteria for any acceptable option:
It must support and enhance the multi-
It must maintain the security, stability,
and resiliency of the Internet DNS;
It must meet the needs and expectations of
the global customers and partners of the IANA services;
It must maintain the openness of the
These criteria are all important factors in any successful
proposal, but there are still significant questions that remain
to be answered before the transition should happen. The DOTCOM
Act is intended to place a temporary hold on NTIA's transition
process as the non-partisan Government Accountability Office
examines the facts and consequences of any proposal that NTIA
considers. While the criteria set forth by NTIA address many of
the potential concerns that arise out of this transition,
having a neutral third party evaluate the proposals and their
adherence to the criteria helps to ensure that any successor
solution is legitimately satisfactory and in the best interests
of the Internet and its users. GAO is uniquely situated to
provide an unbiased and thoughtful assessment of the transition
and allow for others to evaluate based on the facts discovered.
Chairmen Upton and Walden, along with Congressmen Shimkus,
Blackburn, Kelly, and Rokita, wrote to GAO in June 2014
requesting an initial examination of the implications of the
transition itself. The request included a look at the current
contract and its protections, risks of completing or not
completing the transition, and the need for any additional
criteria, among other questions. This preliminary GAO report is
important groundwork for NTIA's consideration, but an
additional examination of any submitted proposal is also
necessary. Asking NTIA to simply pause during this
investigative process ensures that any decision will not be
hasty or poorly informed. While NTIA will hopefully take
advantage of a GAO report when making their decision, nothing
in the DOTCOM Act binds them to act in a specific way,
regardless of GAO's findings. No matter the outcome, having a
full picture of the facts and consequences of such a
significant change in the basic fabric of the Internet is the
responsible action for the government to take.
The Subcommittee has long supported the multistakeholder
process for Internet governance, as demonstrated by the passage
of H.R. 1580 and H. Con. Res. 127, both of which expressed the
sentiment that the Internet should remain free from
international regulation. However, support for the
international multistakeholder model does not need to be blind
By taking this type of deliberate step within the
government decision making process, the United States is better
able to ensure that the Internet remains open and free, a
principle the Committee has long supported. With the ever
present international threats to these values, it is essential
that any successor solution be scrutinized so that if or when a
transition takes place, the operation of the Internet, an
engine of commerce and innovation, is not affected.
The Subcommittee began its consideration of this transition
shortly after NTIA's announcement of the intent to transfer to
IANA functions. The Subcommittee on Communications and
Technology held an oversight hearing on April 2, 2014, entitled
``Ensuring the Security, Stability, Resilience, and Freedom of
the Global Internet.'' The Subcommittee received testimony from
the Honorable Larry Strickling, Assistant Secretary for
Communications and Information at the National
Telecommunications and Information Administration; Mr. Fadi
Chehade, President and CEO of the Internet Corporation for
Assigned Names and Numbers; the Honorable David A. Gross,
partner at Wiley Rein, LLP; Mr. Steve DelBianco, Executive
Director of NetChoice; and Ms. Carolina Rossini, Project
Director, Latin American Resource Center, Internet Governance
and Human Rights Program at New American Foundation.
Representative John Shimkus, along with Rep. Todd Rokita,
Rep. Renee Ellmers, Rep. Bob Latta, Rep. Joe Barton, and Rep.
Marsha Blackburn, introduced H.R. 4342 on March 27, 2014.
On April 10, 2014, the Subcommittee on Communications and
Technology met in open markup session and favorably reported
the bill to the full Committee by a vote of 16 to 10.
On May 7 and 8, 2014, the Committee on Energy and Commerce
met in open markup session and favorably reported the bill to
the House by voice vote.
Clause 3(b) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of
Representatives requires the Committee to list the record votes
on the motion to report legislation and amendments thereto. A
motion by Mr. Upton to order H.R. 4342 reported to the House
was agreed to by a voice vote. The following reflects the
record votes taken during the Committee consideration:
[GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]
COMMITTEE OVERSIGHT FINDINGS
Pursuant to clause 3(c)(1) of rule XIII of the Rules of the
House of Representatives, the Committee held a hearing and made
findings that are reflected in this report.
STATEMENT OF GENERAL PERFORMANCE GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
The goal and objective of H.R. 4342 is to prohibit the NTIA
from relinquishing responsibility over the Internet domain name
system until the Comptroller General of the United States
submits to Congress a report on the role of the NTIA with
respect to such system.
NEW BUDGET AUTHORITY, ENTITLEMENT AUTHORITY, AND TAX EXPENDITURES
In compliance with clause 3(c)(2) of rule XIII of the Rules
of the House of Representatives, the Committee finds that H.R.
4342 would result in no new or increased budget authority,
entitlement authority, or tax expenditures or revenues.
EARMARK, LIMITED TAX BENEFITS, AND LIMITED TARIFF BENEFITS
In compliance with clause 9(e), 9(f), and 9(g) of rule XXI
of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the Committee
finds that H.R. 4342 contains no earmarks, limited tax
benefits, or limited tariff benefits.
COMMITTEE COST ESTIMATE
The Committee adopts as its own the cost estimate prepared
by the Director of the Congressional Budget Office pursuant to
section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974.
CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE ESTIMATE
Pursuant to clause 3(c)(3) of rule XIII of the Rules of the
House of Representatives, the following is the cost estimate
provided by the Congressional Budget Office pursuant to section
402 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974:
May 30, 2014.
Hon. Fred Upton,
Chairman, Committee on Energy and Commence,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 4342, the Domain
Openness Through Continued Oversight Matters Act of 2014.
If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Susan Willie.
Douglas W. Elmendorf.
H.R. 4342--Domain Openness Through Continued Oversight Matters Act of
Under current law, the National Telecommunications and
Information Agency (NTIA) has certain responsibilities in
overseeing the Internet Domain Name System (DNS): the system
that maintains files that link domain names with numerical
addresses needed to locate computer services and devices. The
agency has announced plans to transfer those responsibilities
to the international community; in preparation for that event,
NTIA has requested a proposal from global stakeholders
outlining a transition plan.
H.R. 4342 would prohibit NTIA from relinquishing those
responsibilities until the Government Accountability Office
(GAO) has prepared a report reviewing the proposed transfer.
The report must analyze advantages and disadvantages of NTIA's
diminished role, the proposals received from the international
community for the transition plan, and the process NTIA and
other agencies would use to evaluate those proposals. GAO would
have one year after NTIA receives a proposal to complete the
CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 4342 would cost about
$1 million over the 2015-2019 period, assuming the availability
of appropriated funds. That amount includes administrative
costs that would be incurred by NTIA as a result of the delay
in transferring its DNS oversight responsibilities to a new
organization and costs for GAO to prepare the required report.
Pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply to this legislation
because it would not affect direct spending or revenues.
H.R. 4342 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and
would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal
The staff contact for this estimate is Susan Willie. The
estimate was approved by Theresa Gullo, Deputy Assistant
Director for Budget Analysis.
FEDERAL MANDATES STATEMENT
The Committee adopts as its own the estimate of Federal
mandates prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget
Office pursuant to section 423 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform
DUPLICATION OF FEDERAL PROGRAMS
No provision of H.R. 4342 establishes or reauthorizes a
program of the Federal Government known to be duplicative of
another Federal program, a program that was included in any
report from the Government Accountability Office to Congress
pursuant to section 21 of Public Law 111-139, or a program
related to a program identified in the most recent Catalog of
Federal Domestic Assistance.
DISCLOSURE OF DIRECTED RULE MAKINGS
Enacting H.R. 4342 does not require any rule making.
ADVISORY COMMITTEE STATEMENT
No advisory committees within the meaning of section 5(b)
of the Federal Advisory Committee Act were created by this
APPLICABILITY TO LEGISLATIVE BRANCH
The Committee finds that the legislation does not relate to
the terms and conditions of employment or access to public
services or accommodations within the meaning of section
102(b)(3) of the Congressional Accountability Act.
SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS OF THE LEGISLATION
Section 1. Short title
Section 2. Subsection 2(a) requires the Assistant Secretary
of Commerce for Communications and Information to refrain from
relinquishing or agreeing to a proposal that relinquishes the
responsibilities of NTIA over the Internet DNS functions for a
period of one year, during which time the Comptroller General
will submit to Congress the report required by subsection (b)
of the Act.
Subsection (b) requires the Government Accountability
Office to produce a report on the consequences of any proposals
submitted to NTIA to transition oversight of the IANA functions
away from the Department of Commerce. The report must contain
detail on the role of NTIA with respect to the DNS; discussion
and analysis of the implications of relinquishing its role;
NTIA's criteria for evaluating submitted proposals; detailed
analysis of the proposals received by NTIA; discussion of the
processes and criteria used by NTIA and other agencies for
evaluating the proposals; and evaluation of whether acceptance
of the proposals would raise national security concerns. In
addition, the report must include a definition of the term
``multistakeholder'' and any other terms necessary to
understand the report.
CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW MADE BY THE BILL, AS REPORTED
This legislation does not amend any existing Federal
I submit these minority views to explain my opposition to
H.R. 4342, the Domain Openness Through Continued Oversight
Matters (DOTCOM) Act of 2014, as reported.
The House of Representatives voted three times in the last
two years to reaffirm the U.S. government's commitment to a
global multistakeholder model of Internet governance.\1\ A key
element of this commitment is the termination of the Internet
Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions contract between
the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications
and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Internet
Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which
represents the final stage of the privatization of the domain
name system (DNS) first initiated 16 years ago. NTIA's March
14, 2014, announcement to initiate the final transition process
was a critical effort to inject fresh confidence into the
multistakeholder model that has been under increasing attack in
\1\H. Con. Res. 127, Roll Call Vote No. 555, 112th Cong. (Aug. 2,
2012); S. Con. Res. 50, Roll Call Vote No. 617, 112th Cong. (Dec. 5,
2012); and H.R. 1580, Roll Call Vote No. 145, 113th Cong. (May 14,
The DOTCOM Act suggests the U.S. Government Accountability
Office's (GAO) judgment would supersede a consensus plan
developed by the multistakeholder community. This unilateral
effort stands in contrast to Congress' commitment to the
multistakeholder approach to Internet governance and would
create an artificial delay in the implementation of the
Authoritarian regimes use continued U.S. government
stewardship of technical Internet functions as evidence for a
need to move these functions to another governmental or
intergovernmental entity like the United Nations. The witness
representing civil society organizations stated at the April 2,
2014, hearing that ``by forestalling the transfer of the IANA
functions to the global multistakeholder community, [the DOTCOM
Act] could further empower critics who favor a governmental or
intergovernmental model of internet governance.''\2\ NTIA has
also specifically stated that it ``will not accept a proposal
that replaces the NTIA role with a government-led or an inter-
governmental organization solution.''\3\
\2\House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on
Communications and Technology, Testimony of Carolina Rossini, Project
Director, Internet Governance and Human Rights Program, New America
Foundation, Hearing on Ensuring the Security, Stability, Resilience,
and Freedom of the Global Internet, 113th Cong. (Apr. 2, 2014).
\3\National Telecommunications and Information Administration, NTIA
Announces Intent to Transition Key Internet Domain Name Functions (Mar.
14, 2014) (press release).
Moreover, the DOTCOM Act misrepresents the United States'
role in the management of the global Internet domain name
system. NTIA's role with respect to the technical functions of
the Internet domain name system has always been ministerial and
largely symbolic.\4\ The U.S. government has never had any
legal or statutory responsibility to manage the domain name
system. This very limited role was also always intended to be
temporary, until such time as the Internet community could
manage these functions itself.
\4\House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on
Communications and Technology, Testimony of Lawrence E. Strickling,
Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information, Hearing on
Ensuring the Security, Stability, Resilience, and Freedom of the Global
Internet, 113th Cong. (Apr. 2, 2014).
Finally, the transition announcement has already helped
facilitate additional support for the bottom-up, consensus-
based approach to Internet governance that the United States
has historically championed. In April 2014, Brazil hosted the
successful NetMundial conference where a multistakeholder group
of technical experts, civil society, industry and governments
all agreed that Internet governance should be built on
democratic multistakeholder processes.\5\ In November 2014 at
the International Telecommunication Union's (ITU) 2014
Plenipotentiary conference in Busan, Korea, the United States
achieved all of its objectives, including keeping the ITU's
work focused on its current mandate and not expanding its role
into Internet and cybersecurity issues.\6\ ICANN is also
working on enhancing accountability, addressing a key concern
that has been raised as part of the IANA transition process.\7\
Congress and NTIA must continue to actively engage with the
global community to strengthen the multistakeholder model that
has made the Internet an open platform for commerce,
innovation, and self-expression for peoples around the world.
\5\NetMundial, NetMundial Multistakeholder Statement (Apr. 24,
2014) (online at netmundial.br/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/NETmundial-
\6\U.S. Department of State, Outcomes from the International
Telecommunication Union 2014 Plenipotentiary Conference in Busan,
Republic of Korea (Nov. 10, 2014) (online at state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/
\7\ICANN, Proposed Charter for Enhancing ICANN Accountability Cross
Community Working Group (CCWG) Submitted for Consideration (Nov. 5,
2014) (online at www.icann.org/news/announcement-2014-11-05-en).
For these reasons, I oppose H.R. 4342.
Henry A. Waxman.