A new U.S. Senate bill would grant the president far-reaching emergency powers to seize control of or even shut down portions of the Internet.
The legislation announced Thursday says that companies such as broadband providers, search engines, or software firms that the government selects "shall immediately comply with any emergency measure or action developed" by the Department of Homeland Security. Anyone failing to comply would be fined.
That emergency authority would allow the federal government to "preserve those networks and assets and our country and protect our people," Joe Lieberman, the primary sponsor of the measure and the chairman of the Homeland Security committee, told reporters on Thursday. Lieberman is an independent senator from Connecticut who caucuses with the Democrats.
The idea of an Internet "kill switch" that the president could flip is not new. A draft Senate proposal that CNET obtained in August allowed the White House to "declare a cybersecurity emergency," and another from Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) would have explicitly given the government the power to "order the disconnection" of certain networks or Web sites.
The prospect of a vast new cybersecurity bureaucracy with power to command the private sector worries some privacy advocates. "This is a plan for an auto-immune reaction," says Jim Harper, director of information studies at the libertarian Cato Institute. "When something goes wrong, the government will attack our infrastructure and make society weaker."
Does the Internet Need a 'Kill Switch'?
By: Megan Gibson (5 days ago)
Topics: internet, kill switch, U.S.MATTHEW CAVANAUGH/epa/Corbis
A proposed bill could effectively give the president an Internet "kill switch."
Senator Joseph Lieberman has proposed the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act (PCNAA), a bill that would give the president the power to control or even shut down the Internet in emergency situations. Citing the need for cybersecurity, Lieberman said in a press release that the U.S.'s "economic security, national security and public safety are now all at risk from new kinds of enemies — cyber-warriors, cyber-spies, cyber-terrorists and cyber-criminals."
Technology trade association, TechAmerica, has already expressed worry at the level of control the bill would grant the president if passed — levels that could have "unintended consequences." Other countries are also decrying the bill, fearing the impact on their own security if the U.S. were to shut down essential parts of the Internet. (via CNET)
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Senators propose granting president emergency Internet power
Image via Wikipedia