Senators James Lankford, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee Challenge ICANN on Internet Oversight and Relationship with China

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senators James Lankford (R-OK), Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) today sent a follow-up letter to Dr. Stephen Crocker, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), demanding a response to a series of unanswered questions that remain from previous congressional oversight letters concerning ICANN’s relationship with the Chinese government and the planned transition away from U.S. government oversight of the Internet.

“On March 3, 2016, we sent you a letter requesting information to gain a better understanding of the potential implications of ICANN’s relationship with the Chinese government and its impact on the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) transition. Since then, ICANN has submitted to the U.S. government an IANA Stewardship Transition Proposal that seeks to end U.S. government oversight of the IANA functions. Given this recent development and congressional concerns over ICANN’s transparency, accountability, and relationship with the Chinese government, it is imperative that we receive a response to our letter,” the Senators wrote.

“After sending our initial request 32 days ago, your staff indicated that you would be unable to respond before March 18. Two weeks has passed since your own self-extended deadline, and ICANN has not only failed to provide a response, but has been unable or unwilling to provide an exact date for when we can expect a complete response to our March 3 letter.”

“This series of events comes on the heels of ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé’s failure to respond to all of the questions in our February 4, 2016 letter addressed to him. We would note that not only did Mr. Chehadé fail to respond to our questions in full, but he disparaged the oversight request during a February 5 question-and-answer session in Los Angeles, California with members of ICANN’s Generic Names Supporting Organization Non-Contracted Party House.”

The Senators continued: “To our dismay, ICANN has failed to respond in full to questions posed in two oversight letters. We are therefore resending our questions and ask that you and Mr. Chehadé provide a response to all unanswered questions (provided below) from our February 4 and March 3 letters as soon as possible, but no later than 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, April 7, 2016.”

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), under the Department of Commerce, has contracted with ICANN, a nonprofit organization, to perform Internet functions since 1998. On March 14, 2014, NTIA announced its intention to transition its stewardship role over the Internet to a global, multistakeholder community. The current contract has been extended until September 30, 2016; however, there is a prohibition in place preventing the Administration from using any funds to relinquish control over the Internet during Fiscal Year 2016. Since the time of the 2014 announcement, Senators Cruz, Lankford and Lee have expressed strong opposition to the United States transferring control of the Internet, as once our nation relinquishes its role, there is no guarantee that groups and countries that do not share the free and open vision for the Internet do not take over governance.

Read the latest Cruz-Lankford-Lee letter here.