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June 28th, 2010
Socialized Internet

Well, one more giant leap towards China for President Obama as he is drooling over the prospect of being handed the power to shut down the Internet for at least four months without Congressional oversight.  The Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, which is being pushed hard by Senator Joe Lieberman, would hand absolute power to the federal government to close down networks, and block incoming Internet traffic from certain countries under a declared national emergency.

More wonderful news from the Senate floor yesterday...they approved an Internet ‘kill switch’ bill and now move it to the floor.

Unbelieveably, but in true reality, this bill would actually establish a White House Office for Cyberspace Policy and a National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications.
Basically, this would allow the US President to take emergency actions to protect critical parts of the Internet (aka shut-down, block, make inaccessible)
The bill also includes power to order owners of critical infrastructure to implement emergency response plans(aka forced shut-down), during a cyber-emergency.   The legislation would also give the US Department of Homeland Security authority that it does not now have to respond to cyber-attacks.

"Our responsibility for cyber defence goes well beyond the public sector because so much of cyberspace is owned and operated by the private sector," said Joe Lieberman. "The Department of Homeland Security has actually shown that vulnerabilities in key private sector networks like utilities and communications could bring our economy down for a period of time if attacked or commandeered by a foreign power or cyber terrorists." 


Is it just me, or doesn't the government operate on it's own private, secure network...not public.  Isn't that what the whole ".gov" business is all about?


This could be an attempt to socialize the Internet by removing competition of the vast array of internet security products.

One critic said Thursday that the bill will hurt the nation's security, not help it. Security products operate in a competitive market that works best without heavy government intervention, said Wayne Crews, vice president for policy and director of technology studies at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, an anti-regulation think tank.


"Policymakers should reject such proposals to centralize cyber security risk management," Crews said in an e-mail. "The Internet that will evolve if government can resort to a 'kill switch' will be vastly different from, and inferior to, the safer one that will emerge otherwise."
Cybersecurity technologies and services thrive on competition, he added. "The unmistakable tenor of the cybersecurity discussion today is that of government steering while the market rows," he said. "To be sure, law enforcement has a crucial role in punishing intrusions on private networks and infrastructure. But government must coexist with, rather than crowd out, private sector security technologies."


Despite the Center for Democracy and Technology and 23 other privacy and technology organizations sending letters to Lieberman and other backers of the bill expressing concerns that the legislation could be used to stifle free speech, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee passed in the bill in advance of a vote on the Senate floor.

To placate widespread criticism of the bill, language was added that would force the government to seek congressional approval to extend emergency measures beyond 120 days.
But Obama still has the power to 'hit the switch' for up to 4 months without Congressional oversight or approval.

Of course Senators pushing the bill rejected the claim that the bill was a ‘kill switch’ for the Internet, but they don't deny that Obama would be given the authority to shut down the Internet.

If you would like to voice your concerns, besides Lieberman, sponsors of the bill are Senators Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, and Tom Carper, a Delaware Democrat. 

 


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