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DOTCOM Act clears Senate commerce

The Senate commerce committee approved by voice vote the DOTCOM Act, a bill that would give Congress more oversight over the transition to move a key domain name function of the Internet to ICANN, the international multi-stakeholder organization.

The House passed an identical bill earlier this week by a vote of 378-25.

Commerce chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) managed to smooth the Senate bill’s passage despite an amendment from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) that would have given Congress more authority over the transition.

“[The DOTCOM Act] does give Congress ample time. It does send a clear signal to the world that the U.S. will stand up for the international stakeholder model. If the amendment goes on [the bill], we will lose the Democrats and run the risk of a veto by the Administration,” Thune said.

The Domain Openness Through Continued Oversight Matters (DOTCOM) Act prohibits the U.S. hand over of the IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) to ICANN until Congress has 30 days to review the plan and certify that ICANN has adopted additional accountability reforms.

“By requiring a certification to Congress before any transfer of IANA functions, this legislation has been designed to increase ICANN’s accountability, protect the open Internet, and help keep the Internet free from control by foreign governments,” Thune said.

The transition of the IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) to ICANN, originally planned for September 2015 when the U.S. contract ends, won’t happen until next June 2016 at the earliest, according to the time-table laid out Monday by ICANN leadership at the meeting in Buenos Aires.