The Obama administration has come out against legislation that would temporarily keep certain Internet management functions under U.S. control.
The U.S. government plans to transfer oversight of the Internet's address system to the "global community" next year.
Republicans fear the move could allow Russia, China, or other authoritarian regimes to seize power over the Internet and even censor websites. The House Energy and Commerce Committee is set to vote Thursday on the DOTCOM Act, which would block the Internet power transfer pending a study by the Government Accountability Office.
In a letter Tuesday, the Commerce Department said Congress is "well within its right to request a GAO report" even without legislation, but that the administration opposes the DOTCOM Act because it could derail the Internet oversight transfer.
Kelly Walsh, the Commerce Department's general counsel, argued that the transition is part of the long-standing position of the United States to support the "multi-stakeholder" model of Internet governance, in which decisions are made by an array of nonprofits, companies, academics, and engineers.
By giving up authority over the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers — the nonprofit group that manages the Internet's address system — the U.S. is strengthening the multi-stakeholder model and undercutting authoritarian regimes that are arguing for more government control of the Internet, she argued.