Could Obama Close The Internet?

New Senate legislation introduced by John Rockefeller (D-West Virginia) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) would grant the president sweeping powers to control the internet in the event of a cyber-security crisis, including control of the on/off switch for both public and private U.S. networks. The bill is said to follow many of the suggestions of a Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) report released Dec. 8, 2008, calling for a cyber-security czar. See my coverage of that report here.

Then, as now, my concern was how to balance self-defense from hackers and digital cossacks and civil liberties from bureaucrats and federal agencies. Crisis powers and preparations are one thing, unrestrained federal control of the web is quite another. Who will be able to declare an internet emergency… the executive branch? Could this end up being a backdoor for new surveillance efforts in the war on (digital?) “terrorists”?

The Center for Democracy and Technology managed to get a draft PDF of the legislation, which you can check out here. More coverage of this bill, which is already scaring the pants off computer professionals and civil libertarians, can be found here and here.

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2 Responses to “Could Obama Close The Internet?”

  1. personal trainer austin tx Says:

    Recently in response to Penn Gillette’s call for less government intrusion, Larry King posed the question, “Who is going to think for the masses?” Maybe Obama and his internet czar will think for us and protect us from the bad bad information highway. Larry King BTW does not know how to use email.

  2. Internet & Democracy Blog » Senate Introduces Cyber-Security “Czar” Says:

    […] Could Obama Close The Internet? […]