Sen Cruz fights Internet domain name handover in hearing

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Escalating tensions between Senate Republicans and the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) came to a head at a hearing on transferring management of the Internet domain name system. Senate Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Ted Cruz (R-TX) opened the hearing with a blistering warning that the transition would make the Internet vulnerable to censorship and weaken the First Amendment. Sen Cruz has been fighting against transition of oversight of the domain name system — which is central to how consumers reach websites — since before Congress returned from its summer recess. The change is set to happen at the end of September, unless Congress blocks it. Ranking Member Chris Coons (D-DE) called the hearing unnecessary and challenged Sen Cruz’s opposition the management change.

But Sen Cruz’s aggressive rejection of the transition bled into the witness testimony. He battled top NTIA official Lawrence Strickling, who became visibly frustrated as Sen Cruz suggested that the NTIA may have violated federal law by assessing the transition. Strickling says it is "extreme and wrong" to claim the transition would be a giveaway to China or Russia, saying the contract is too limited to be a tool for protecting Internet freedom, while "failing to follow through on the transition or unilaterally extending the contract will only embolden authoritarian regimes to intensify their advocacy for government-led or intergovernmental management of the Internet via the United Nations." “Senator, if I may finish …,” Strickling said at one point in attempting to clarify the NTIA's responsibilities. “No you may not,” Sen Cruz said. “You may answer my questions.” Sen Cruz warned Commerce Department officials they could face jail time for their efforts to hand control of the Internet's domain name system to an international group, saying they violated congressional funding restrictions.

Sen Cruz fights Internet domain name handover in hearing Cruz: Obama officials could face jail for internet ‘handover’ (Politico) Officials: Domain Name Transition Not an ‘Internet Giveaway’ (Morning Consult) Sen. Cruz Remains Committed to Delaying, Blocking IANA Handoff (Broadcasting&Cable) NTIA Chief Larry Strickling: Blocking IANA Transition Benefits Russia, China (Multichannel News) Sen Schatz Slams Effort to Delay IANA Transition (Broadcasting&Cable) Republicans lash out at US plan to cede internet oversight (Financial Times)