Free Markets, Free People

Proposed Legislation Would Give President Expanded Power Over Internet

For all the whining and complaining about the Bush executive branch expanding its power, it appears now the Senate, at least in the guise of one Senator Jay Rockefeller, can’t wait to expand this president’s power.

In this case, the expansion of power is in the name of “cyber security”. And FYI, “cyber” is defined as anything having to do with the Internet, telecommunications, computers, or computer networks. Proposed is the following which is actually a rewrite of a previous attempt:

The new version would allow the president to “declare a cybersecurity emergency” relating to “non-governmental” computer networks and do what’s necessary to respond to the threat. Other sections of the proposal include a federal certification program for “cybersecurity professionals,” and a requirement that certain computer systems and networks in the private sector be managed by people who have been awarded that license.

Vague language, expanded power, expanded control – all the things with which any civil liberties watchdog would be concerned. When Rockefeller and Republican Olympia Snowe introduced the original bill, this was their declared reason:

“We must protect our critical infrastructure at all costs–from our water to our electricity, to banking, traffic lights and electronic health records,” Rockefeller said.

Yes we must, but it isn’t clear why government could do that better than private firms who would have just as invested an interest in security as would the government or why such security must be extended to the entire “non-governmental computer networks”, i.e. the internet.

Proponents liken the power to literally shut down the internet in an emergency to the power President Bush exercised to ground all aircraft in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

Really? Given the state of cyber security, we couldn’t be much more precise than that?

Probably the most controversial language begins in Section 201, which permits the president to “direct the national response to the cyber threat” if necessary for “the national defense and security.” The White House is supposed to engage in “periodic mapping” of private networks deemed to be critical, and those companies “shall share” requested information with the federal government.

“The language has changed but it doesn’t contain any real additional limits,” EFF’s Tien says. “It simply switches the more direct and obvious language they had originally to the more ambiguous (version)…The designation of what is a critical infrastructure system or network as far as I can tell has no specific process. There’s no provision for any administrative process or review. That’s where the problems seem to start. And then you have the amorphous powers that go along with it.”

“Shall share?” For all intents and purposes, that makes those “private networks” so identified as anything but private. And, arbitrarily, just about any or all networks could be designated “critical” couldn’t they?

Cnet gives us the translation of what that means:

If your company is deemed “critical,” a new set of regulations kick in involving who you can hire, what information you must disclose, and when the government would exercise control over your computers or network.

How could that possibly be abused?

Again, we see the expansion of government power in a way which intrudes, imposes regulation and, in the end, controls. While “cyber security” is certainly important, it can be managed in a much less controlling and intrusive way than this. Like the health care insurance reform bill, this is one which needs to be torn up and the entire process started over again.



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24 Responses to Proposed Legislation Would Give President Expanded Power Over Internet

  • It is becoming increasingly evident the Congress and this administration loath and fear the Constitution in general and free speech in particular. Joe Biden’s comment about the “crisis” 0bama will face within the first six months (and react inappropriately to it) is coming into focus: it is a domestic threat he fears, from Vets, Tea-Partyers, Militias, and town hall participants.

    The $600,000,000 Amercorp just received, this would certainly arm a lot of Apollo Alliance/ACORN/STORM/Weather Underground/Black Panthers.

    Could this be the “domestic force that is as well armed and trained as our military” that Barrack says we need?

    Why do we need such a force? What domestic threat exists that such a force is needed? Certainly not illegal aliens, for Bush 43 and obama love them as their own children. Then who?

    An awful lot of preparations are being amassed for domestic unrest; expecting any, Barrack?

    If it walks like a duck…

    • If you look at right-wing military coups in the 60’s, they often started because a left-wing elected leader started to create their own armed forces outside of the military. Allende did this in Chile with Cuban help, and Sukarno was working on his “5th force” in the same vein. I believe Chavez also has his own paramilitary, though he may be a special case as he came from the military directly.

      In the US, if this were truly attempted (and we are nowhere near this in any way, shape, or form)I would think it would be put down very quickly via elections or the military ala Honduras if the forces were used politically in any way.

      I don’t think they need to arm them in any case to achieve their goals – they have the MSM, they have paid advertisement from industry like pharma, they have the unions, and they now have paid “volunteers.” Oh, and the schools work hard to produce reliable voters every year. Why would you mess up this sweet set-up with armed paramilitaries?

      If I were writing a thriller, maybe I could have the dollar collapse, increased economic problems, rioting, and more tea party protests involving armed citizenry that convinces the left they need to bring out their own armed units…jesus, that does not sound as outlandish as I want it to sound.

  • The hated gov created the net and hated academia propogated it. True story.

  • I try to stay away from the more alarmist notions that Obama is aiming to seize power Chavez- or maybe even Lenin- style.

    But it is astonishing how much wild legislation such as this cyberbill, radical appointments, like Van Jones or John Holdren, and unsettling policies like trying to force Honduras back under Zelaya or setting loose the DOJ on the CIA, keeping coming out of the Obama White House.

  • Wow Tom, you mean QandO was created by the gub’mint…don’t you mean it created DARPANET…Cisco Systems did the rest. Or have you forgotten AlGore’s “Information Super Highway”, which never got built, by the gub’mint, because the World Wide Web was there instead?

    • You have to forgive our Tommy, he thinks he’s dealing with people who possess as little knowledge of the real world as he does.

      You know, other liberals.

  • What? A self proclaimed Socialist is fermenting a plan to censor and to abuse power? How can that be? Knock me over with a feather.

  • Bruce, you will find that a lot of folks who might not be well-respected by this site, are in TOTAL agreement with you on this Internet bill. You can certainly count me in. Jay Rockefeller is a wussie – yeah, he whined some about Bush — but never put his @ss on the line or did a damned thing about the things over which he he whined. He’s a scumbag. That he’s the proponent of this bill is not surprising.

  • I have to ask: is there nothing that will stop this group of thugs in the White House from taking control of all of our lives? Is there no one to stand up to their tyranny?

  • If these F**kers pass any of these bills; I’m guessing they are going to get what’s coming to them.

  • The problem with both parties is that they favor a government of men, not one of laws with checks and balances against centralized power. If only they can get their men in the positions of power, they reason, all will be well. The problem for Americans is obvious, because either way power is being centralized and usurped by the government. A divided government is always better for individual liberty than a de facto single-party state, such as the current government or the one briefly under President Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress. But for the party currently in power, there is the problem that in four, eight, twelve years, the reins will change hands. Maybe the Democrats are just betting that the Republicans will never take the White House again. Not an altogether irrational wager…

  • >>>>>You have to forgive our Tommy, he thinks he’s dealing

    Tommy probably has a BFA or a BA in gender studies. What would he know about technology

  • Is TAO channeling Idi Amin?

  • So how is FISMA working out for the Fed? How is that certified workforce handling the cyberthreat?

  • This post has been linked for the HOT5 Daily 8/29/2009, at The Unreligious Right

  • These kinds of ideas are always extended beyond there original intent. RICO was designed to go after the Mafia. Now, it is routinely used for anyone. The Patriot Act was for terrorist activity, but has become common in use for ordinary crimes. Anyone who thinks this cybersecurity legislation will be restricted to attacks on the internet that threaten national security is living in fantasy-land.


  • When Rockefeller and Republican Olympia Snowe introduced the original bill….

    Crikes, this RINO is a real pain in the ass.