The Internet Kill-Switch Debate: Aims of Bill Unclear
By Adam Cohen | YahooNews.ca
Here’s an idea: How about creating an Internet kill switch, so the government can shut off the Internet when it decides it is necessary?
That may sound absurd, but a lot of people are convinced this is already in the works. How many? Google the words "Internet kill switch" and you will soon find out.
What has them worried is the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, sponsored by independent Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, Republican Susan Collins of Maine and Democrat Tom Carper of Delaware. The bill aims to make it easier for the government to respond to Internet-based attacks that threaten national security.
Online, issues often break down along partisan lines, but liberals and conservatives are both worried that the Lieberman-Collins-Carper bill could turn the President into an Internet overlord. It has been a hot topic on the left-leaning blog Daily Kos, where one poster urged fellow readers to tweet the White House saying, "We DO NOT support the Internet Kill Switch." On the right-leaning Red State blog, a poster recently railed against the bill under the headline "Obama’s Orwellian Control of the Internet." A letter to Lieberman, Collins and Carper expressing concern about the effect of the bill on civil liberties was signed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the very liberal National Lawyers Guild - and, on the other end of the spectrum, by the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and Liberty Guard, which has sued the Federal Government to stop the new national health care reform from taking effect.
It is not hard to see why everyone is so worried. Imagine a President misusing this particular power: If the people are rising up against an unpopular Administration, the President could cool things down by shutting off a large swath of the Internet. He could target certain geographical regions ("We’ve heard enough from New York and California for a while"). Or he could single out particular websites.
The government certainly has a record of overusing authority it is given when national security is involved - we saw that, a few years ago, with the Bush Administration’s domestic wiretapping program.
The sponsors of the cybersecurity bill insist that their bill would not give the President an Internet kill switch. Senator Lieberman expressly labels this a "myth" on his Senate website. Senator Collins has said it has been "frustrating" to read all the reports of an Internet kill switch. In fact, she has argued, the bill would limit rather than expand the President’s power.
So, would the bill actually create an Internet kill switch? No, it does not seem to. But it is hard to say with any precision what it would do - and that is the problem with the bill.
The President already has broad power under the Communications Act of 1934 to shut down wire communications, which includes the Internet, if he determines that there is a "state or threat of war." When Collins says that the bill would limit the President’s power, she means it would impose more restrictions on when he could shut down parts of the Internet than the 1934 act does.
True enough. But critics of the bill point out that it expands the President’s power over the Internet in a key respect: the 1934 law only applies when there is war or a threat of war, while the new law would allow the President to act even when there is not a war or a threat of war. "All I can say is it gives him power to act where he wouldn’t necessarily have the power to act" under existing law, says Lee Tien, a lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The bill authorizes the President to declare cyber emergencies, and what happens next is fairly unclear. He would be able to restrict parts of the Internet that relate to "critical infrastructure," but it is hard to know what exactly falls under the category of critical infrastructure and how far the President could go in closing it down.
"What authority the government would have is not laid out at all in the law," says Michelle Richardson, a lawyer in the Washington office of the ACLU.
The Lieberman-Collins-Carper bill has some built-in protections, including a prohibition on identifying targets based solely on activities protected by the First Amendment. And give the sponsors credit for this: the bill has been changing, and improving, as it has moved through the Senate.
But here is the problem: even lawyers like Tien and Richardson, whose job it is to monitor the bill, say they are not certain what it would do and how far it would go.
The bill may not authorize the creation of a literal Internet kill switch - at least in the sense of authorizing the President to shut down the entire online world. But it would give the government new authority to restrict the Internet during what it considers to be emergencies.
Given how important the Internet has become to freedom of speech, political organizing and daily life, that is not a power that should be handed over lightly, even in the name of national security. We are entitled to know exactly what the government proposes to do - in language clear enough for both lawyers and nonlawyers to understand.
Article from: news.yahoo.com
Top Image: Source
Save the Internet (Dear FCC: You work for me)
Reuters and Attributor Corporation begin censoring "online internet forums"
Cyber Command: We Don’t Wanna Defend the Internet (We Just Might Have To)
Australian Government To Force Internet Users To Install State-Approved Software
FCC Moves to Regulate the Internet
Internet access is ’a fundamental right’
Google D.C. Talk: ACTA - The Global Treaty That Could Reshape The Internet
Censordyne - Internet Censorship (Video) :)
Rupert Murdoch: “Internet Will Soon Be Over”
Unknown internet 2: Could the net become self-aware?
Bono net policing idea draws fire
Latest News from our Front Page
The Pilgrims Were Definitely Not Like Modern-Day Refugees
This upcoming Thanksgiving Day is sure to offer you and your family plenty of opportunities to argue over whether America should be welcoming Syrian refugees.
If you have any liberal relatives or friends coming over for your Thursday feast, theyâ€™re going to relish the chance to tell everyone that the Pilgrims were refugees too â€” and hope that statement decimates all ...
ISIS to France: "We will be coming. Victory has been promised to us by Allah"
Homegrown French ISIS fighters have issued a chilling threat of new attacks on France just 24 hours after the terrorist group used movie footage of the Eiffel Tower's collapse in another video.
A balaclava-clad militant is seen warning 'we will be coming, we will come to crush your country' in footage posted on Twitter earlier today.
It is unclear where the film ...
ISIS teenage 'poster girl' Samra Kesinovic 'beaten to death' as she tried to flee the group
She appeared in social media images for the group carrying a Kalashnikov and surrounded by armed men
A teenage girl who ran away from her Vienna home to join Isis in Syria has reportedly been beaten to death by the group after trying to escape.
Samra Kesinovic, 17, travelled to Syria last year with her friend Sabina Selimovic, 15.
The two became a ...
The Right Stuff's flagship podcast "The Daily Shoah" has been censored by Soundcloud
Editor's note: The PC corporate moral police strike again. Just as Radio 3Fourteen & Red Ice Radio were censored from iTunes, The Daily Shoah was pulled from Soundcloud today. As per usual, there is a double standard, they allow any kind of anti-White material:
No counter culture humor making fun of the genocidal mainstream garbage is allowed!
Soundcloud took it upon ...
Merkel Welcomes A Million More: Vows To Stand By Refugee Policy Despite Security Fears
Chancellor Angela Merkel vowed on Wednesday to stick to her open-door refugee policy, defying criticism at home and abroad which has intensified due to growing fears about a potential security risk after the Islamist attacks in Paris.
Conservative Merkel faces splits in her right-left coalition and pressure from EU states, including France, over her insistence that Germany can cope with up ...
|More News » |