The Inquirer-Home

Americans continue plans to switch off the Internet

It is ours we can do what we like with it
Mon Aug 31 2009, 12:08

THE FORMER UK COLONY of Virginia has continued its plans to rule the world by threatening to switch off the Internet.

The nation that was formed by a French backed rabble of terrorists has insisted that it has run the Internet since day one and is demanding that its President has the right to tell the world what to do or he can just switch it off.

A draft [shurely daft - Ed] piece of legislation was brought up last year and sent Internet companies and civil liberties groups into a spin. It gave the White House the power to disconnect from the Internet private sector computer networks that it deems to be 'critical infrastructure'.

There was so much alarm that the bill was tabled, but now a revised version has been drawn up by Senator Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat.

CNET got a copy of the 55-page draft of S.773, which still appears to permit the executive branch to seize temporary control of private sector networks.

Apparently all the President has to do is declare a "cybersecurity emergency" relating to vaguely specified non-governmental computer networks.

However the Internet Security Alliance says the law is too vague and adopting it would harm private businesses.

Senate supporters said that the bill merely proposes what President Bush did when he grounded all aircraft on September 11, 2001.

The new law would allow the President to conduct "periodic mapping" of private networks thought to be critical and would require those companies to share requested information with the federal government.

If the law is passed and the White House considers your industry critical, regulations will kick in about who you can hire, what information you must disclose to the federal government, and when government agencies could take over and exercise control over your computers and networks.

The White House says that it does not see the bill as giving it the power to order a "shutdown or takeover of the Internet".

It claims the bill just says how the president can direct the public-private response to a crisis, secure the economy and safeguard financial networks, protect the American people, their privacy and civil liberties, and coordinate the government's response.

We're surprised that it didn't throw in motherhood and apple pie as well, and of course we'll all just have to take its word about that.

Then there is also the small matter of what a presidential order to shut down the Internet might do to the rest of the world. We guess it doesn't matter, since the US has ignored repeated requests from the rest of the world to hand over control of the Internet to a world body. µ



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