Monday, April 20, 2009
Big Bro’s Cybersecurity Act: A means to shut down the Internet
By Jerry Mazza
Online Journal Associate Editor
Apr 20, 2009, 00:20
I’m not the first to write about this little-noticed Senate bill, S.773, the Cybersecurity Act of 2009. Nor should I be the last because it is such an important piece of legislation.
The bill states that “the president may order a Cybersecurity emergency and order the limitation or shutdown of Internet traffic” and would hand the government continuous access to “all relevant data concerning (critical infrastructure) networks without regard to any provision of law, regulation, rule, or policy restricting such access.” George Orwell must be turning over in his grave.
The bill came to us from a Rockefeller, surprise, supposedly the Democratic one, Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia and Republican Olympia Snowe of Maine, along with Senators Bayh and Nelson. But think of it mainly as a Rockefeller Snowe job this Cybersecurity Act of 2009, which also wants to hands us a Cybersecurity Czar, to compliment our Drug Czar, Homeland Security Czar, Border Czar, and any other bizarre Czar they can think of to limit American freedoms.
Supposedly, the White House didn’t endorse the bill’s draft, but had a hand in its language, whatever the hell the Washington Post meant by that. Naturally, supporters of this bill need to “centralize Cybersecurity” of the private sector. Rockefeller claims, “People say this is a military or intelligence concern, but it is a lot more than that. It suddenly gets into the realm of traffic lights, rail networks, water and electricity.” In other words, anything attached to a computer.
Snowe adds, “American’s vulnerability to massive cyber-crime, global cyber-espionage and cyber-attacks has emerged as one of the most urgent national security problems facing our country today. Importantly, this legislation loosely parallels the recommendations in the CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies) blue-ribbon report to President Obama and has been embraced by a number of industry and government thought leaders.”
The question is what are “thought leaders?” Are they like Big Brothers? And why are we priming the fear pump again ala the USAPATRIOT Act, the elimination of habeas corpus, the Bush/CIA memos that okay torture, the NSA’s right not only to spy on international electronic communications but its adaptation as well for civilian use, not to mention the government’s continuing right to rendition, torture abroad, and so on. If this isn’t still another plea for dictatorial powers, I’m Elmer Fudd. No wisecracks.
The net-net of all this is to create a net to bag the Internet, right now the only alternative media this country has. I forget who said, “in the process of protecting liberty, do not further steps to destroy it.” You get the drift. You’re netting out, if this bill goes through, with all news being carried by the not so trustworthy so-called MSM corporate networks; radio and print controlled by profit-making newswires and television by the Towers of Babel, the likes of General Electric.
Ultimately, you would virtually be handing the Internet over to the say-so or nay-say of one man. Of course, the Senate bill’s powers would allow Big Bro to shut down the Internet “in times of emergency,” whenever, whatever he/she decided they would be. Sort of like Bush’s Presidential Powers Act, that he could have canceled all elections in times of what he called a national emergency and make himself dictator until all the boogeymen went away, however long that would be. Fortunately, he went away.
And fortunately, most intelligent critics don’t like this open-ended language and remain on the lookout for amendments to the bill to be more specific about the provisions. Of course, none have been submitted so far. Just give us one of this big blunt instruments with which we can slam the public into unconsciousness in a moment’s notice. Fortunately, the Center for Democracy and Technology agree that if passed in its current form, the bill leaves too much discretion to Big Bro to define “critical infrastructure.” This bill also shotguns private networks and systems, which include standardized security software, testing, licensing and certification of cybersecurity professionals.
In other words, it’s not your father’s or your Internet. The president not only gets to define what critical infrastructure is but what the real deal emergency is. He also gets to pick everyone’s wardrobe on that day. Lots of luck.
Jennifer Granick, civil liberties director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation notes, “Essentially, the Act would federalize critical infrastructure security. Since many systems (banks, telecommunications, energy) are in the hands of the private sector, the bill would create a major shift of power away from users and companies to the federal government.” You bet your sweet bippy it would.
I would also add (if I haven’t already) that this quiet little bill presents one of the biggest slams at free speech, communication and our right to protest that I have ever seen. It is a giant step backwards into that 1984 that George Orwell so ably predicted in his novel. By the way, the bill is 56 pages long. So you’ll get an idea of how often and in how many ways tyrants have asked to protect you by taking away more of your precious, constitutional liberties. Ergo tell your senators to bag the Rockefeller-Snowe job when it’s brought to the floor for a vote.
Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer living in New York City. Reach him at email@example.com. His new book, “State Of Shock: Poems from 9/11 on” is available at www.jerrymazza.com, Amazon or Barnesandnoble.com.
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Posted by Deb Simon at Monday, April 20, 2009