Big Government's Capitol Hill Insider, Elizabeth Letchworth, has been reporting on Congress’ "attempts to give the President an Internet kill switch."
“The Senate Leader introduced this bill as a placeholder for the 112th Congress," Letchworth wrote to the political blog. "He wants to use it to push Judiciary, Commerce, and Homeland Security committees to write cyber security legislation. Don’t be surprised if the Senate has a vote on this soon to show that cyber security is important to Congress, especially given the Egypt situation and the closing down of the Internet. As always, the devil is in the details and S. 21 is vague to say the least.”
If there's a devil to be hidden in legislation it will be in details, as Letchworth says. Another example of Congress trying to expand its power to cover all areas of daily life, the bill's lack of clarity, as it's being rushed through in a time of "crisis," as everybody's attention is focused on the Muslim Brotherhood's uprising in Egypt, is dangerous indeed.
Recently, TMC's (News - Alert) Tracey Schelmetic wrote that ?Orwellian-named Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act of 2010, also known as S. 3480, was a bill introduced in the Senate by Senators Joe Lieberman (Independent Democrat, CT), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Tom Carper (D-DE) back in June of 2010: "The purpose of the bill, as stated, is to “increase security in cyberspace and prevent attacks which could disable infrastructure such as telecommunications or disrupt the nation's economy.”
Bland and inocuous enough boilerplate, but the bottom line, as Schelmetic notes, is that "in addition to giving the President an option to essentially shut off private Internet networks, the bill would create an Office of Cyberspace Policy and a National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications." The bill, Schelmetic says, "would allow the President to enact 'emergency measures',” left undefined, "in the case of a large-scale cyber attack. In its original form, the bill granted the President authority to shut down part of the Internet for an indefinite time. A later version of the bill reduced that time to 120 days, unless Congress approves an extension."
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David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.
Edited by Charles West