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U.S. Pushes Bill for Internet 'Kill Switch', But Unlike Egypt Will Only Use Its Power for 'Good' (LOL!)

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From the Australian publication The Age, this is what Internet traffic to and from Egypt looked like on January 27 and 28.

As street protests in Egypt began to explode, fostered in part by Internet social networking tools, the government of Egypt acted quickly to jam communications, shutting down all access to the Internet and eliminating mobile phone and other communication tools. While it is debatable that the communication shutdown has worked (depends on what your definition of "worked" is, one presumes), it is clear that reducing Internet communications has had the effect of slowing down the protests.

But look, that's Egypt. The government's ability to essentially flip a switch and shut down Internet and other communications tools is surely itself bundled in with anti-government protests. Fortunately, the participants in our "open Democracy" here in the U.S. don't have to worry about such aggressively totalitarian tools... at least for the time being.

After expiring without action last year, Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) plans to re-introduce the so-called "Internet Kill Switch" bill, which she originally co-sponsored with Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT).

Collins says the bill is designed to protect against major cyber threats before they spiral out of control.

"My legislation would provide a mechanism for the government to work with the private sector in the event of a true cyber emergency," Collins said according to Wired.

That almost sounds reasonable. An original draft proposal of the bill introduced last year would have authorized the White House to "declare a cybersecurity emergency" and order the disconnection of certain networks or Web sites. The new, revised bill is more aggressive, saying that the federal government's designation of vital Internet or other computer systems "shall not be subject to judicial review," and expanding the definition of "critical infrastructure" to include "provider of information technology," and a third authorized the submission of "classified" reports on security vulnerabilities, according to CNet.

From the article:

The revised Lieberman-Collins bill, dubbed the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, works this way: Homeland Security will "establish and maintain a list of systems or assets that constitute covered critical infrastructure" and that will be subject to emergency decrees. (The term "kill switch" does not appear in the legislation.)

Under the revised legislation, the definition of critical infrastructure has been tightened. DHS is only supposed to place a computer system (including a server, Web site, router, and so on) on the list if it meets three requirements. First, the disruption of the system could cause "severe economic consequences" or worse. Second, that the system "is a component of the national information infrastructure." Third, that the "national information infrastructure is essential to the reliable operation of the system."

Of course, from a Socionimics standpoint, the timing of the Internet Kill Switch bill makes perfect sense. To wit, consider this 1934 legislation, the Communications Act of 1934, during the heart of the Great Depression, which authorizes the president to shut down any communications station or communications device in the event of war time or national emergency. Considering the "war on terror" already puts us in a state of perpetual war, the Collins-Lieberman bill is merely a new coat of icing on a cake that was baked more than 75 years ago.
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