Obama's Next Power Grab: The Internet Kill Switch

A little talked about bill has been floating around the Senate Recently - The " Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act" (PCNAA), would give Obama wide power to shut down the internet in the name of national security. A writer for The Huffington Post has likened the bill to an "Internet Kill Switch."


The bill, sponsored by Connecticut Senator Joeseph Lieberman, says, according to CNET.com, 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.


According to CNET "the federal government's power to force private companies to comply with emergency decrees would become unusually broad. Any company on a list created by Homeland Security that also "relies on" the Internet, the telephone system, or any other component of the U.S. "information infrastructure" would be subject to command by a new National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications (NCCC) that would be created inside Homeland Security."


It's a shame that a Senator that barely has a grasp of how technology functions is introducing a bill granting the federal government over an electronic medium that is best left policed by private interests. Lieberman described the internet as a dangerous place with electronic pipelines that run directly into everything from our personal bank accounts to key infrastructure to government and industrial secrets..." Electronic Pipes, huh? Sounds a little like another out of touch Senator, Alaska's Ted Stevens, pretending to be expert on the internet. Stevens infamously received no end of ridicule when he described the internet as "a series of tubes."


In an age when individual liberties are slowly being eroded, the PCNAA is another attempt by the Big Government Powers That Be to control an electronic communication channel that they could shut down on a whim. We have seen the power of the internet to circumvent government control of traditional media channels to get information, that governments might not find favorable, to a mass audience (e.g., Iran's Green Revolution).


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