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Can Obama Shut Down the Internet? [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2010-6-20 00:22:04 |Display all floors
Can Obama Shut Down the Internet?

by Philip Shenon

A new bill rocketing through Congress would give the president sweeping powers to police the Web for national-security reasons. Could this be a way to block WikiLeaks?

Is cyberspace about to get censored?

Confronting threats ranging from Chinese superhackers to the release of secret documents on WikiLeaks and other whistleblowing websites, the Obama administration may be on the verge of assuming broad new powers to regulate the Internet on national-security grounds.

The powers are granted to the White House under a bipartisan bill that was introduced in the Senate only last week but is already moving quickly through Congress toward passage. The legislation has generated considerable buzz on tech blogs—but drawn little notice so far by major news organizations.

“The way it seems to be worded, the bill could easily represent a threat to free speech,”
said Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

The bill would grant President Obama the power to declare a “national cyber-emergency” at his discretion and force private companies tied to the Web, including Internet service providers and search engines, to take action in response—moves that could include limiting or even cutting off their connections to the World Wide Web for up to 30 days.

While the bill’s sponsors say it is intended to create a shield to defend the United States and its largest companies from the growing threat of cyberattacks, civil-liberties activists tell The Daily Beast they fear the bill could give the White House the ability to effectively shut down portions of the Internet for reasons that could prove to be politically inspired.

“We have seen through recent history that in an emergency, the Executive Branch will interpret grants of power very broadly,” said Gregory Nojeim of the Center for Democracy and Technology, a group that promotes Internet freedom. He said the bill, which he described as moving “at lightning speed in congressional terms,” was too loosely worded in its definition of which companies would be regulated and what they would be required to do in an emergency.

Wayne Crews, vice president of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free-enterprise think tank, said he believed the bill was so broadly worded that it might even allow the White House to take aim at whistleblowing websites that were believed to pose a national-security threat, such as WikiLeaks, in the guise of a “cyber-emergency.”

“That would be a concern of mine,” Crews tells The Daily Beast. “The way it seems to be worded, the bill could easily represent a threat to free speech.”

WikiLeaks, which is nominally based in Sweden and promotes itself as a global resource for whistleblowers, announced this week that it is preparing to post a classified Pentagon video depicting an American airstrike in Afghanistan last year that left as many as 140 people dead, most of them children and teenagers.

The Protecting Cyberspace Act was introduced last week by Senator Joseph Lieberman, the Connecticut independent who is chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, and Senator Susan Collins of Maine, the panel’s ranking Republican. Counterparts in the House Homeland Security Committee have endorsed identical legislation, meaning that a final bill could be adopted by the full Congress within weeks. The White House has not taken a stand on the legislation so far.

Lieberman said the bill was intended to prevent a “cyber 9/11” in which “cyberwarriors, cyberspies, cyberterrorists and cybercriminals” take aim at the United States and try to shut down infrastructure that is dependent on the Internet—a list of targets that include everything from nuclear power plants to banks to Pentagon computer networks.

“The Internet may have started out as a communications oddity some 40 years ago, but it is now a necessity of modern life and, sadly, one that is under constant attack,” he said. Lieberman and the bill’s other sponsors cited the massive cyberattack several months ago on the search-engine company Google—an attack believed to have been organized by the Chinese government—as an example of the sorts of attacks that could be routine in the future.

Lieberman’s committee spokeswoman, Leslie Phillips, said the bill was an effort to defend the nation’s most important electronic networks, “the networks that are most central to our daily lives,” not at attacking anything. She was particularly agitated at any suggestion that the bill might give the White House the opportunity to try to shut down individual websites on national-security grounds.

“In no way is the senator’s cybersecurity legislation directed at websites—WikiLeaks or anyone else’s,” she said. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange did not reply to a request for comment via email.

The bill would create a new federal agency, the National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications, within the Department of Homeland Security, with a director who would require Senate confirmation.

The center would work with private companies involved in what is described in the bill as “critical infrastructure”—a list including companies involved with electric grids, telecommunications networks and the Internet—to come up with emergency measures in the event of a crisis. Under the bill, the White House could demand that the emergency measures be put into place, including restrictions on their access to the Internet, if the president declared a national cyber-emergency.

Philip Shenon, a former investigative reporter at The New York Times, is the author of The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation.

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Post time 2010-6-20 09:47:09 |Display all floors
Can Obama Shut Down the Internet?

So much from the land of free speech!

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Post time 2010-6-28 17:06:28 |Display all floors

Senate 'Internet Kill Switch' Bill Moves Forward

Senate 'Internet Kill Switch' Bill Moves Forward


A Senate committee on Thursday approved a cyber-security bill that has prompted concern about a presidential "Internet kill switch."

The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee unanimously approved the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act of 2010 (S. 3480). It now moves to the Senate floor for a full vote.

The bill is an over-arching cyber-security measure, which would, among other things, create an office of cyberspace policy within the White House, which would be led by a Senate-appointed director. It would also create a new center within the Homeland Security Department, which would implement cyber-security policies.

A provision that got the most attention, however, was one that gave the president the power to "authorize emergency measures to protect the nation's most critical infrastructure if a cyber vulnerability is being exploited or is about to be exploited."

Though the language is somewhat vague, this section was interpreted by many as giving the president an "Internet kill switch" that would effectively allow him to "turn off" the Web in an emergency.

"While the bill makes it clear that it does not authorize electronic surveillance beyond that authorized in current law, we are concerned that the emergency actions that could be compelled could include shutting down or limiting Internet communications that might be carried over covered critical infrastructure systems," several privacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), wrote in a Wednesday letter to the committee.

The bill should be amended to describe exactly what actions the government can take, the groups said.

Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, the bill's sponsor, refuted the "Internet kill switch" assertion as "misinformation" during a Sunday appearance on CNN, and the committee on Wednesday published a "myth vs. reality" fact sheet on the bill.

Current law already provides the president with broad authority to take over communications networks, the committee said, pointing to Section 706 of the Communications Act. That portion gives the president authority to "cause the closing of any facility or station for wire communication" and "authorize the use of control of any such facility or station" by the federal government. This can be done if a state or threat of war exists, it does not require advance notification to Congress, and can continue for up to six months after the threat expires.

This bill, the committee said, "would bring presidential authority to respond to a major cyber attack into the 21st century by providing a precise, targeted, and focused way for the president to defend our most sensitive infrastructure."

Specifically, the bill would give the president 30 days to respond to a threat, requires that he notify Congress beforehand, and demands that he use the "least disruptive means feasible" to do so. The committee denied that it lets him "take over" the Web, and said it does not provide any new surveillance authorities. Owners of private networks would be able to propose alternative responses to a given threat.

Lieberman's bill "authorizes only the identification of particular systems or assets – not whole companies, and certainly not the entire Internet," the committee said. "Only specific systems or assets whose disruption would cause a national or regional catastrophe would be subject to the bill's mandatory security requirements."

A catastrophe would include mass casualties, severe economic impact, mass prolonged evacuations, or severe degradation of national security capabilities.

The committee's fact sheet also denied that the bill gives the president the authority to conduct e-surveillance and monitor private networks or regulate the Internet.

"Catastrophic cyber attack is no longer a fantasy or a fiction," Lieberman said in a Thursday statement. "It is a clear and present danger. This legislation would fundamentally reshape the way the federal government defends America's cyberspace. It takes a comprehensive, risk-based, and collaborative approach to addressing critical vulnerabilities in our own defenses. We believe our bill would go a long way toward improving the security of our government and private critical infrastructure, and therefore the security of the American people."

Rep. Jane Harman, a California Democrat, has introduced a House version of the bill, H.R. 5548, but it has not yet passed committee.

In May 2009, President Obama designated cyber-security as a national security policy. Seven months later, he appointed Howard Schmidt, a former eBay and Microsoft executive, as cyber-security coordinator.

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Post time 2010-6-28 19:07:30 |Display all floors
Obama Can Shut Down Internet For 4 Months Under

New Emergency Powers

Paul Joseph Watson
Friday, June 25, 2010 ... w-emergency-powers/

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Post time 2010-6-30 05:43:19 |Display all floors
Obama internet 'kill switch' bill approved

June 25, 2010

The US senators pushing a controversial new bill that some fear would give President Barack Obama the powers to seize control of and even shut down the internet have rejected claims it would give Obama a net "kill switch".

The bill, titled Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, has been unanimously approved by the US Homeland Security committee and will be put to a vote on the Senate floor shortly.

Lobby groups and academics quickly rounded on the bill, which seeks to grant the President broad emergency powers over the internet in times of national emergency.

Any internet firms and providers must "immediately comply with any emergency measure or action developed" by a new section of the US Department of Homeland Security, dubbed the "National Centre for Cybersecurity and Communications".

The critics said that, rather than combat terrorists, it would actually do them "the biggest favour ever" by terrorising the rest of the world, which is now heavily reliant on cyberspace.

Australian academics criticised the description in the bill's title of the internet as a US "national asset", saying any action would disrupt other countries as most of the critical internet infrastructure is located in the US.

This week, 24 privacy and civil liberties groups sent a letter raising concerns about the legislation to the sponsors, including that it could limit free speech and free inquiry, Computerworld reported.

"We are concerned that the emergency actions that could be compelled could include shutting down or limiting internet communications," the letter reads.

But the architects of the plan, committee chairman Senator Joe Lieberman and Senator Susan Collins, have this week released a "Myth v. Reality" document that hits back at these criticisms.

They say the threat of a catastrophic cyber attack is real and not a matter of "if" but "when". Cyber crime was also costing the US economy billions of dollars annually and the bill would "modernise the government's ability to safeguard the nation's cyber networks from attack and will establish a public/private partnership to set national cyber security priorities".

The senators rejected the "kill switch" claim, arguing that the President already had authority under the Communications Act to "cause the closing of any facility or station for wire communication" when there is a "state or threat of war".

They said under the new bill the President would be far less likely to use the broad authority he already has under current law to take over communications. It would provide "a precise, targeted and focused way for the President to defend our most sensitive infrastructure".

Any action would be limited to 30-day increments and the President must use the "least disruptive means feasible" to respond to the threats. Action extended beyond 120 days would need Congressional approval.

The bill would not give the President the authority to take over the entire internet, target specific websites or conduct electronic surveillance.

"Only specific systems or assets whose disruption would cause a national or regional catastrophe would be subject to the bill's mandatory security requirements," the senators wrote.

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Post time 2010-6-30 07:58:28 |Display all floors
Originally posted by sansukong at 2010-6-28 17:06...
This bill, the committee said, "would bring presidential authority to respond to a major cyber attack into the 21st century by providing a precise, targeted, and focused way for the president to defend our most sensitive infrastructure." ...

I need to read more of this bill.  But if the above statement is correct, than I see no issues with having some kind of plan in place.
In fact, every country should have some kind of plan in place to respond to major cyber attacks.  When the google issue came forward,
many other companies came out to say they were also attacked.  Companies that supply defense systems to the gov and some other ones
that would make you feel a little uneasy about.   And still, we don't have effective ways at preventing cyber attacks as the technology and approach
is ever changing.  

I am for better security.  I've had sites that were hacked although they could never be considered a national threat or anything like that.  It's still annoying
that there seems to be no recourse after this happens.  Hackers seem to get away with it 99.99% of the time.  Half the time you don't even try to track
down the culprit - it's all such a waste of time.

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Post time 2010-6-30 14:53:15 |Display all floors
This is a terrible bill, my only hope is it's never used. Would hate to end up with a partial internet filled only with what the ruling party wants me to see... Of course it would just encourage the growth of VPNs in other freer countries like Europe or Canada, like how China's Great Fire Wall blocking Facebook and youtube created a boom of American VPNs.

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