Friday, September 17, 2010

New US "mega kill bill" would give President and DHS even more power to control the Internet

Laws like this is the reason that I am against the FCC or Congress getting involved in any regulation of the Internet especially net neutrality.  This bill, if passed, would give the President and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) sweeping powers to shut down parts and the whole Internet or even terminate specific users they deem are threats by executive fiat.  There is no Congressional oversight.  There is little definition of what IS a cyber-threat.  Once again is proves that the current Administration and Congress does not understand the Internet. 

There are several things wrong with this proposed legislation not to mention that it is probably unconstitutional without “war power” authority to go along with it.  This power would allow the Executive branch to interfere with commerce and suppress free speech.  Wasn’t this administration suppose to be “open” and “transparent?”  They are actually more totalitarian than they claimed of the previous administration. 

Next, the legislation allows continued unwarranted surveillance of “suspects” that are deemed “threats” to national security which is an extension of the Patriot Act.  Finally the legislation barely takes into account the fact that the Internet is a global network and not just a U.S. network. 

The philosophy of the bill can be summed up by Senator Joe Lieberman’s comment on CNN that the U.S. needs the same ability to shut down the Internet as China.  So it looks like the current administration and Congress is benchmarking ourselves with the Peoples’ Republic of China.  God help us all. 

The Internet is a global network for commerce, information dissemination, and communications.  There may be a need during war to manage ingress and egress to the United States, but it should not be wholly shut down.  The NSA is better equipped to understand and manage this job than DHS.  The government should recall that open communications did more to bring down Communism than anything else we did during the Cold War.

Senator Lieberman’s legislation is ill conceived and needs to be killed immediately.  This is not a partisan issue, but one of freedom and openness.  Also, there must be checks placed on the application of such a power.  It must not be given unilaterally.  Contact your Senators and urge them not to support S.3480.  When will our industry and tech community realize that as a whole the government does not really understand the Internet and any attempt to control it will have disastrous effects?