The Internet Governance project reports that the House of Representatives passed a consolidated appropriations bill to fund the majority of government through fiscal year 2015. Contradicting their ‘Internet freedom’ rhetoric, Republicans attached a rider to the gigantic ($1.014 trillion) federal funding bill that defunded any attempt by the NTIA to set the domain name system free of government control until October 2015. The action does not stop ongoing community efforts to develop a plan for the IANA transition. But it does prevent the NTIA from spending any time on completing the process. Paul Rosenzweig wrote on the Lawfare blog that this does not totally prevent the transition from happening, because “the act of not signing a contract (which is what NTIA proposes to do) costs nothing.
But this relatively optimistic view overlooks the fact that completing the transition requires a bit more than just not renewing ICANN’s contract. It also requires NTIA to amend its Cooperative Agreement with Verisign. It requires an orderly transition of authority over the DNS root to whatever new institution the proposal developers come up with. And, if NTIA is to ensure that the transition meets its own criteria – such as not allowing intergovernmental control, having widespread support, upholding the ‘multistakeholder model’ and maintaining the openness, stability and security of the Internet, NTIA needs to review and approve the plan submitted to it by the IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group.