GOP, Dems Clash Over Online Domain Name Oversight

Republican opposition to Obama administration plans to spin off U.S. oversight of the Internet's domain name system is evolving into an election-year political fight, with GOP lawmakers using it as the latest front in their attacks on President Barack Obama's trustworthiness.

"We've seen enough out of this administration and its imperial presidency politics that I'm not going to just give them a blank pen and then walk away," Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., said Thursday as a House subcommittee he chairs voted to impose a one-year delay in implementing any changes so congressional investigators could study the issue.

The party-line 16-10 vote came as administration officials defended their proposal at other congressional hearings. And Democratic lawmakers said Republican warnings that the Internet could be turned over to hostile governments were the stuff of fantasy.

"It's not a conspiracy or a digital black helicopter," Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., said in a sarcastic reference to 1990s-era claims by some militias and other right-wing groups about government surveillance aircraft. "It's a plan, and I think it's time to move forward with it."

The back and forth comes during a campaign season in which Republicans have vilified Obama as exceeding his powers by taking steps such as delaying various deadlines set by his health care overhaul law, which they solidly oppose.

The latest dispute is over an administration announcement last month that it wants to give up its oversight of the non-profit U.S. corporation that manages the Internet's system of addresses, such as

That entity -- the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers -- has allocated domain names and the numerical addresses to which they are attached since 1998. Ever since, ICANN's work has been overseen by the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

"We are not giving up our leadership role," Lawrence Strickling, who heads the NTIA, told...

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