Anyone remember 9-11, Iran?
Oh, (Big) Brother: The President's proposed Internet Kill Switch would cripplenews in times of crisis
I was immediately creeped out when I heard about the new Senate bill that would create a government agency devoted to cybersecurity and grant the President power to assume control of, or completely shut down, the Internet in a national emergency.
The Protecting Cyberspace as National Asset Act (PCNAA), backed by Joe Lieberman (shocking), would give the President the authority to declare a "cybersecurity emergency" and shut down or limit Internet traffic in "critical networks." (Critical networks are, of course, undefined.) Furthermore, the bill would grant the Secretary of Commerce access to any data on public or private networks without regard to privacy laws, according to some interpretations.
I usually balk at encroachments of basic rights in the name of national security, but this is not only terrifying, it is incredibly stupid.
Ron Callari makes a good point when he asks — what if this bill had existed September 11, 2001? I couldn't think of a more sudden and unanticipated breach of national security than the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers. Would we have hit the Internet Kill Switch, as many outlets are terming it, effectively eliminating communication from the ground?
What would we have done? Waited for the next day's newspaper to hit doorsteps so people could figure out what was really going on? How about all the people in the Towers who communicated with their loved ones online? It's insanity.
One needs only look to the enormous role social networking sites like Twitter played during the Iranian elections last year. People used 140 characters or less to organize protests, relay information and update each other on incidents of police brutality when their text messages were blocked by the government.
Do we want to live in a nation with the means or the desire to squelch communication? In the United States, Twitter was one of the few insights we had into what was going on in Iran — what would this mean for journalism?
Also at stake are the implications for personal privacy. The Center for Democracy and Technology says the bill could easily undermine privacy acts and may even threaten the constitutional promise against searches without cause. (Think authorities happening upon illegal activities while trolling the "relevant data" they have near-unmitigated access to.)
What do you think? Would the passage of a bill like the PCNAA make you feel more secure, or more scrutinized?