Big Sis Gets Bigger Role In Policing Internet
September 14, 2010
by Paul Joseph Watson
Two cybersecurity bills that would hand President Obama the power to shut down parts of the Internet in the event of a national emergency have now been merged into a single unified piece of legislation that Democrats will try to pass before the end of the year, with the Department of Homeland Security being given a larger role in policing the world wide web.
Under the new draft bill, which is a combination of the two versions originally crafted by Senators Joe Lieberman and Jay Rockefeller, Janet Napolitano’s DHS will be handed broader authority to determine how to handle potential cybersecurity threats.
“DHS will get expanded authorities. I think that’s clear,” said James Lewis, a cybersecurity expert with think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies, who has studied the new bill.
An expanded role for Homeland Security would be somewhat ironic given the fact that the DHS itself recently failed an extensive cyber-security audit conducted by the agency’s own Inspector General.
“The DHS US-CERT office is currently plagued by at least 600 vulnerabilities that could compromise sensitive data, including 202 which have been classified as high-risk,” reported TG Daily.
Homeland Security’s failure to adequately secure its own internal network will lead to questions about why the agency should be given vast new authority to secure America’s cyber assets and the public Internet.
Democrats want to get the bill passed within the next four weeks, although “sticking points” could delay the legislation, according to a Senate aide familiar with the bill. However, lawmakers are determined to put the package up for a vote before the end of the year.
“Senate Majority Harry Reid has put the measure on his list of top-priority bills to get through the Senate this year,” sources told MoneyControl.com.
Lieberman’s version of the original bill includes language that would hand President Obama the power to shut down parts of the world wide web for at least four months with no congressional oversight. The combined version appears to shift that responsibility to DHS, who under the pretext of a national emergency could block all Internet traffic to the U.S. from certain countries, and close down specific hubs and networks, creating an ominous precedent for government regulation and control over the Internet.
Cybersecurity legislation is being promoted as a vital tool to defend the nation’s critical infrastructure against cyber- terrorism. However, as we have highlighted, the threat from cyber-terrorists to the U.S. power grid or water supply is minimal. The perpetrators of an attack on such infrastructure would have to have direct physical access to the systems that operate these plants to cause any damage. Any perceived threat from the public Internet to these systems is therefore completely contrived and strips bare what many fear is the real agenda behind cybersecurity – to enable the government to regulate free speech on the Internet.
As we reported back in March, the Obama administration’s release of the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative, a government plan to “secure” (or control) the nation’s public and private sector computer networks, coincided with Democrats attempting to claim that the independent news website The Drudge Report was serving malware, an incident Senator Jim Inhofe described as a deliberate ploy “to discourage people from using Drudge”.
Fears that cybersecurity legislation could be used to stifle free speech were heightened when Senator Lieberman told CNN’s Candy Crowley that the real motivation behind the bill was to mimic the Communist Chinese system of Internet policing.
“Right now China, the government, can disconnect parts of its Internet in case of war and we need to have that here too,” said Lieberman.
As we have documented, the Communist Chinese government does not disconnect parts of the Internet because of genuine security concerns, it habitually does so only to oppress and silence victims of government abuse and atrocities, and to strangle dissent against the state, a practice many fear is the ultimate intention of cybersecurity in the United States.