Archive for April 24th, 2009

Giving King Obama the power to shut down the Internet and access your bank records?

Surely this won’t pass the US Senate.

A bill making its way through Congress proposes to give the U.S. government authority over all networks considered part of the nation’s critical infrastructure. Under the proposed Cybersecurity Act of 2009, the president would have the authority to shut down Internet traffic to protect national security.

The government also would have access to digital data from a vast array of industries including banking, telecommunications and energy. A second bill, meanwhile, would create a national cybersecurity adviser — commonly referred to as the cybersecurity czar — within the White House to coordinate strategy with a wide range of federal agencies involved.

Actually, I don’t know what’s more troubling here. The idea of giving any single man the power to turn off the Internet at will, or the government gaining access to data from the banks and telcos…and seeing as this includes the term “digital data” it could very well be a new form of “warantless wiretapping”.

Silicon Valley executives are calling the bill vague and overly intrusive, and they are rebelling at the thought of increased and costly government regulations amid the global economic crisis.

Others are concerned about the potential erosion of civil liberties. “I’m scared of it,” said Lee Tien, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based group.

“It’s really broad, and there are plenty of laws right now designed to prevent the government getting access to that kind of data. It’s the same stuff we’ve been fighting on the warrantless wiretapping.”

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W. Va, who introduced the bill earlier this month with bipartisan support, is casting the legislation as critical to protecting everything from our water and electricity to banking, traffic lights and electronic health records.

“I know the threats we face.” Rockefeller said in a prepared statement when the legislation was introduced. “Our enemies are real. They are sophisticated, they are determined and they will not rest.”

The bill would allow the government to create a detailed set of standards for cybersecurity, as well as take over the process of certifying IT technicians. But many in the technology sector say the government is simply ill-equipped to get involved at the technical level, said Franck Journoud, a policy analyst with the Business Software Alliance.

“Simply put, who has the expertise?” he said. “It’s the industry, not the government. We have a responsibility to increase and improve security. That responsibility cannot be captured in a government standard.”

I’m afraid that I couldn’t help myself. After hearing about this I was compelled to nominate Sen. Jay Rockefeller for Casey Hendrickson and Heather Kydd’s “jerk of the week” on KXNT:

* Your “Jerk of the Week” submission
Sen. Jay Rockefeller

Why should this person be the “Jerk of the Week”?
For trying to give King Obama the power to turn off the Internet. The Internet is the only way those of us on the other side of the world can find out what’s happening in the US…this bill could be the start of a reclusive North Korea type regime.

Your Name (Optional)
Samuel Gordon-Stewart

Oh, and turning off the Internet in the US would also take this website offline…but I’m slightly more concerned about the lack of access I would have to the US media.


April 24th, 2009 at 04:53pm


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