We've asked the question before–and it's worth asking again. If there were mass protests in the United States, could the government press a "kill switch" and shut off the Internet similar to what Mubarak ordered in Egypt? Such a bill exists, and it's back on the table despite Obama's protests about the Internet shut off in Egypt. S.3480, or "Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act of 2010" is back. Sponsored by Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and co-sponsored by Sen Thomas Carper. [DE], and Senator Susan M Collins [ME], there are fears that because Egypt is getting away with shutting down the Internet across the country during the nationalistic protests, that the government of the United States could do the same thing. According to dProgram.net, the people of Egypt are protesting "an economic fallout that has led to crippling tax hikes, wage reductions and spiraling food prices, a similar situation to what is unfolding in America, making reference to how Illinois state authorities recently agreed to hike taxes by a whopping 66 percent." Lieberman was quoted last year as saying "Right now China, the government, can disconnect parts of its Internet in case of war and we need to have that here too." He quickly backed away from the implications, however, adding, according to PCMag.com:
The president will never take over — the government should never take over the Internet," Lieberman said during CNN's "State of the Union," according to a transcript.
Earlier this month, it was reported that Lieberman and Sen. Susan Collins were prepping a bill that would allow the government to "take over" civilian network in an emergency. The news prompted many to dub this option an "Internet kill switch."
On Sunday, Lieberman denied that this was the case, but said the government needed the option to shut down certain parts of the Web should they come under attack."
What does the bill say?
Authorizes the President to issue a declaration of a national cyber emergency to covered critical infrastructure. Requires the President to then notify the owners and operators of the infrastructure of the nature of the emergency, consistent with the protection of intelligence sources and methods. Requires the NCCC Director to take specified steps, including immediately directing the owners and operators to implement required response plans and to ensure that emergency actions represent the least disruptive means feasible to operations. Terminates such an emergency measure or action 30 days after the President's declaration, with 30-day extensions authorized if the NCCC Director or the President affirms that such measure or action remains necessary to address the continuing emergency.
Requires each owner or operator of covered critical infrastructure to certify to the NCCC Director whether the owner or operator has developed and implemented approved security measures and any applicable emergency measures or actions required for any cyber vulnerabilities and national cyber emergencies. Sets forth civil penalties for violations. Requires the DHS Secretary and the private sector to develop, periodically update, and implement a supply chain risk management strategy designed to ensure the security of the federal information infrastructure.
With worries that President Obama has not yet repealed the Patriot Act which gives the government sweeping powers over the entire citizenry of this country, it would seem a bill such as this would be unnecessary, and unconstitutional.
Melissa Pehle-Hill of the Dallas Congress-Examiner reports:
n an email on Friday, Susan Collins, said, “My legislation would provide a mechanism for the government to work with the private sector in the event of a true cyber emergency. It would give our nation the best tools available to swiftly respond to a significant threat.” She also claimed that this bill would not give the President the same power as Mubarak is exercising in Egypt as it says, “based solely on activities protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.”It was described as authorizing the president to demand turning off access to “critical infrastructure” rather than the entire internet.
However, the US Constitution also protects us from the government being able to force us to buy a product and they made Obamacare a law anyway. Opening the door a crack to the government intrusion often leads the it flying open all the way, even when we think we have the chain engaged."
What do you think? Could the government shut the Internet down for any "perceived threat?" Do you believe that the President wouldn't have the power to shut down the whole Internet, or is this something that is being said to quell fears of government takeover? The Internet is buzzing with speculation right now that he can't really do it. Some say he can. Some fear government takeover and conspiracy. This will be a topic that should be argued relentlessly as we watch what governments in other countries do to violate the basic rights of its citizens.