Washington, DC – On Tuesday, Mar. 25, Congressman Blake Farenthold (R-TX), Subcommittee Chairman on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) sent a letter to the Department of Commerce expressing their concerns with the Department’s announcement that the U.S. will give up jurisdiction over the “root zone file” of the Internet and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and shift control to a multistakeholder process.

“We are deeply troubled by this hasty decision and are seeking answers to questions regarding the NTIA’s policy and legal analysis behind this decision,” wrote Congressmen Farenthold and Issa in the letter. “ICANN controls Web addresses and domains and, as the root of the Internet, it stores all the names and addresses for websites world-wide. The results of a botched handover are so potentially catastrophic to economic and national security that Congress must scrutinize the implications of and legal basis for the NTIA’s action.”

“Additionally, the U.S. economy relies on a functioning Internet for over $250 billion of commerce each day. For our economic success, homeland security, intellectual property protections and political liberties, the Internet must remain secure, transparent and free,” they continued.

In their letter, Chairmen Farenthold and Issa requested information from the Department of Commerce on its plan to shift U.S. control of ICANN to a multistakeholder process, including answers on the following: Does the executive branch have unilateral authority to transfer control over the Internet addresses and root zone management of domains; how will ICANN continue to protect U.S. interests? Particularly, where will disputes be decided and which courts will hear U.S. copyright and free speech claims; how will the new plan ensure continued stability and reliability of the Internet while preserving the openness and innovative nature critical to its growth? 

Wrote Farenthold and Issa: “The answers to these questions will determine the future stability and security of the domain name system and the growing global e-commerce that it supports.”

“We look forward to working with you to determine the proper role for the U.S. government and others to have in the administering of the ICANN program,” the Congressmen closed in their letter.