Boys and Girls, Can you say “Brown Shirts?” Senate Bill S.773 introduced by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, would allow the POTUS to seize temporary control of the internet in an emergency of his choosing. The bill 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.
This is the same President who has tried to stifle dissenting opinion from Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Talk Radio, American Citizens in Town Hall meetings, American Citizens at Tea Parties. He even created a spy on your neighbor program. And we want this guy to have the power to turn off the internet?:
Bill would give president emergency control of Internet
by Declan McCullagh
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 (excerpt), which still appears to permit the president to seize temporary control of private-sector networks during a so-called cybersecurity emergency.
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.
“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.”
Representatives of other large Internet and telecommunications companies expressed concerns about the bill in a teleconference with Rockefeller’s aides this week, but were not immediately available for interviews on Thursday.
A spokesman for Rockefeller also declined to comment on the record Thursday, saying that many people were unavailable because of the summer recess. A Senate source familiar with the bill compared the president’s power to take control of portions of the Internet to what President Bush did when grounding all aircraft on Sept. 11, 2001. The source said that one primary concern was the electrical grid, and what would happen if it were attacked from a broadband connection.
When Rockefeller, the chairman of the Senate Commerce committee, and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) introduced the original bill in April, they claimed it was vital to protect national cybersecurity. “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.
The Rockefeller proposal plays out against a broader concern in Washington, D.C., about the government’s role in cybersecurity. In May, President Obama acknowledged that the government is “not as prepared” as it should be to respond to disruptions and announced that a new cybersecurity coordinator position would be created inside the White House staff. Three months later, that post remains empty, one top cybersecurity aide has quit, and some wags have begun to wonder why a government that receives failing marks on cybersecurity should be trusted to instruct the private sector what to do.
Rockefeller’s revised legislation seeks to reshuffle the way the federal government addresses the topic. It requires a “cybersecurity workforce plan” from every federal agency, a “dashboard” pilot project, measurements of hiring effectiveness, and the implementation of a “comprehensive national cybersecurity strategy” in six months–even though its mandatory legal review will take a year to complete.
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.
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. (“Cyber” is defined as anything having to do with the Internet, telecommunications, computers, or computer networks.)
“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.”
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.
The Internet Security Alliance’s Clinton adds that his group is “supportive of increased federal involvement to enhance cyber security, but we believe that the wrong approach, as embodied in this bill as introduced, will be counterproductive both from an national economic and national security perspective.”
Now put this news together with this from the Glen Beck Show:
THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE BARACK OBAMA: We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
I don’t know how anyone will respond to the facts I am going to present, because they really haven’t responded to any of our questions or challenged any of the facts in our last few shows other than “Hey, don’t call him a ‘czar!'”
But I can’t make this piece of the puzzle fit, unless this piece is about building some kind of thug-ocracy.
All week we’ve been asking tough questions — here’s one more, Mr. President: Why do we need a civilian national security force that is “just as strong, just as powerful” as the military?
Here’s why I ask this question: Who are we fighting? Who internally is threatening our security?
It’s clearly not because we feel there is a threat from illegal aliens crossing the border, because anyone who would say that has been deemed a racist. A civilian national security force on the border is called The Minuteman and the attitude from this administration — as well as the Bush administration — is that they were “vigilantes.” So it’s not for the border.
It can’t be a civilian national security force against Islamic extremists, because according to this administration we aren’t even at war against Islamic extremists anymore. Is this administration really going to ask the American people to profile and call-in tips on Muslim Americans who act suspiciously?
So, who’s left? Is it possible we are seeing the beginnings of another enemy?
Mr. President, is your civilian national security force to protect us from things the Missouri State Police, your own Homeland Security and the liberal Southern Law Poverty Center have come out and said were a threat: militia groups; tea party goers; folks with “Don’t Tread on Me” flags; me; Sarah Palin?
Think about this: Is it unreasonable to think this government would ask you to spy on your neighbors, in light of these recent stories:
— Flag.gov e-mail asking for tips on “fishy” behavior
— Cookies on your computer that track whenever you’ve been on a government Web site — this used to be illegal but that was changed
— The government is using outside companies to track and contact you. Are they gathering information on you? I know that on “cash for clunkers” they didn’t trust the dealers.
To me, all of this sounds like a sci-fi movie, but again I have to ask the reasonable question, in these unreasonable times: Who will the civilian national security force protect us from?
Maybe a better question to ask is, Mr. President: Do you know of a coming event?
If you are not frightened yet, you should be.