House Republicans have introduced a bill to block the IANA transition. These are the same Republicans behind the quickly-called hearings set for April 2. "America shouldn’t surrender its leadership on the world stage to a ‘multistakeholder model’ that’s controlled by foreign governments," said Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.). This seems to ignore a number of the points set out in the NTIA announcement, which specifically says that any government-led or intergovernmental-led solution will be rejected. On top of that, an implementation of the multistakeholder model to assume the IANA oversight functions hasn’t been proposed yet. The process of developing that implementation hasn’t even been proposed yet. Yet somehow, these lawmakers believe they need to pull out jingoistic rhetoric to support wild-eyed claims that the Internet could turn into "another Russian land-grab."
Granted, the IANA functions, the NTIA’s oversight role and the parameters set for the transition of this oversight role to a multistakeholder mechanism takes a little while to understand. They eyes of the world are on the United States, and these eyes are skeptical right now. An ill-informed move like this damages United States credibility. Many people will understand that this is naked political grandstanding – a fine old American tradition. But many others will not. And even those who know what this is, may well use it to demonstrate that U.S. oversight of the IANA functions is not benign, but rather is subject to the political whims of ill-informed American lawmakers.
There are real reasons to be careful and concerned about out the IANA transition. These should be identified and discussed and debated by all stakeholders – and we are all stakeholders. But these are not good reasons, and this type of knee-jerk bill-introducing and hearing-calling does not help the process or the United States’ role in that process. I believe this bill will fail, and the debate will come back to the real issues. Let’s hope this sideshow does not do real damage to the process.