A new US Senate Bill would grant the President far-reaching emergency powers to seize control of, or even shut down, portions of the internet.
The legislation says that companies such as broadband providers, search engines or software firms that the US Government selects “shall immediately comply with any emergency measure or action developed” by the Department of Homeland Security. Anyone failing to comply would be fined.
That emergency authority would allow the Federal Government to “preserve those networks and assets and our country and protect our people,” Joe Lieberman, the primary sponsor of the measure and the chairman of the Homeland Security committee, told reporters on Thursday. Lieberman is an independent senator from Connecticut who meets with the Democrats.
Due to there being few limits on the US President’s emergency power, which can be renewed indefinitely, the densely worded 197-page Bill (PDF) is likely to encounter stiff opposition.
TechAmerica, probably the largest US technology lobby group, said it was concerned about “unintended consequences that would result from the legislation’s regulatory approach” and “the potential for absolute power”. And the Center for Democracy and Technology publicly worried that the Lieberman Bill’s emergency powers “include authority to shut down or limit internet traffic on private systems.”
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With ubiquitous video and audio devices on every phone these days it doesn’t take much to embarrass the establishment. Whether it is a video of a Congressman assaulting a student attempting to ask him questions or police officers caught in lies about their brutality, many in the halls of government look at a citizens right to know and to become activist as a nuisance. Currently there is a multi-pronged approach to limiting your access to the Internet. Other proposals include “Net Neutrality” which would give centralized bureaucrats the ability to prioritize traffic based potentially on political criteria, Cyberbulling laws which are broadly defined and could retroactively punish with criminal offenses people who do not use the accepted “Newspeak” in blogs or social networking sites and finally the recently proposed FTC “Drudge Tax” which would tax out of existence independent citizen activist and journalist in order to support the failing mainstream media.
The establishment of 2010 is taking a page out of the Dark Ages. The Internet is the modern day equivalent to the Gutenberg printing press and movable type. The peasant serfs must not get wind of this new technology and the knowledge it holds lest they threaten the landed gentry. Nothing has changed in over 500 years, information is still power and those who seek to consolidate power understand this and will seek to limit your access to knowledge.