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Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

August 28, 2009

SENATE BILL WOULD GIVE PRESIDENT DICTATOR'S POWER OVER THE INTENET IN A "CYBER EMERGENCY"

Declan McCullagh, CNET - Internet companies and civil liberties groups were alarmed this spring when a U.S. Senate bill proposed handing the White House the power to disconnect private-sector computers from the Internet. They're not much happier about a revised version that aides to Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, have spent months drafting behind closed doors. CNET News has obtained a copy of the 55-page draft of S.773, which still appears to permit the president to seize temporary control of private-sector networks during a so-called cyber security emergency.

The new version would allow the president to "declare a cyber security 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 "cyber security professionals," and a requirement that certain computer systems and networks in the private sector be managed by people who have been awarded that license.

"I think the redraft, while improved, remains troubling due to its vagueness," said Larry Clinton, president of the Internet Security Alliance, which counts representatives of Verizon, Verisign, Nortel, and Carnegie Mellon University on its board. "It is unclear what authority Sen. Rockefeller thinks is necessary over the private sector. Unless this is clarified, we cannot properly analyze, let alone support the bill.". . .

The privacy implications of sweeping changes implemented before the legal review is finished worry Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco. "As soon as you're saying that the federal government is going to be exercising this kind of power over private networks, it's going to be a really big issue," he says. . .

"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). . . 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."

Translation: 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.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Micah Kilton said...

This is scary

Micah Kilton

August 28, 2009 5:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I though America prides itself on freedom of speech. Would this not take that power out of the hands of the people? This is an example of how this administration is slowly stripping us of our rights and freedoms. Good luck voicing your opinion when they have finally shut down all channels under the excuse of cyber security - what a joke.

August 28, 2009 6:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is an amazing violation of our privacy that the Dems always prided themselves so protective of. Where are their voices now, and the ACLU and all the left-wingers? It can not stand. America is lost; this administration is even more corrupt than the last.

August 28, 2009 10:10 PM  

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