The Obama administration’s plan to give up its role in the technical management of the Internet could be unconstitutional, according to top congressional Republicans.
The Commerce Department announced last year that it will end its authority over the servers and other infrastructure necessary for computers around the world to reach websites. The ultimate power over the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the nonprofit group that manages the Internet's address function, would instead belong to the “global stakeholder community.”
In a letter released Monday and dated Sept. 22, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, Sen. Ted Cruz, and Rep. Darrell Issa argued that the plan could violate the constitutional requirement that only Congress has the power to “dispose of … property belonging to the United States.”
The Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which plans to complete the transfer of authority next year, did not respond to a request to comment on the letter.
“If the contract governing U.S. oversight of the Internet is indeed government property, the Administration’s intention to cede control to the ‘global stakeholder community’— including nations like Iran, Russia and China that do not value free speech and in fact seek to stifle it—is in violation of the Constitution and should be stopped,” Cruz said in a separate statement.