Sunday, June 27, 2010

Kill Switch for the Interweb?

On the surface it sounds so Kim-Jong, so A'jad, so Hugo C.--shutting down the internet for a declared national emergency for up to four months. I'm an internet user not an internet engineer--but something in this "Prison Planet" story Drudge linked to stood out:
As we have illustrated, fears surrounding cybersecurity have been hyped to mask the real agenda behind the bill, which is to strangle the runaway growth of alternative and independent media outlets which are exposing government atrocities, cover-ups and cronyism like never before.
True--it's much harder to hide dirty politics, business shenanigans and fishy media information with so many debunking sources available. I would add leaks--in particular Wikileaks--to that list as well.

Is it possible Obama could declare an emergency and shut down the web if they suddenly realized someone had leaked the holy grail of national security secrets to this Assange guy? Just a few weeks ago they were supposedly looking everywhere for him due to the presumed leak of 260,000 sensitive State Department cables to his outfit. No government can effectively operate under pure sunshine despite what Obama promised during the campaign. That's not to mention the blackmail and extortion potential.

At the same time, the potential for mis-using this power is obvious. Some may say, "well, if the president declares a phony national emergency the people will be in an uproar". True, but it won't be as easy to express outrage without message boards, chat rooms, blogs, emails and website comment sections. It will be harder to organize, period.

And it will be nearly impossible to get reliable information by depending only on the mainstream media and AM radio. The public at large will be pretty much in the dark as to any check on the validity of what the news anchors are telling everyone. Imagine for a moment the days after the 2000 election, 9/11, Katrina, etc, and how valuable the web was in understanding those situations.

Chances are if it ever happens things are going to be pretty bad and everyone will know it. Perhaps at that point the internet will be the last of anyone's concerns. But if they tinker with this for politics or other frivolous reasons they run a big risk not only of political fallout but of those dreaded public pitchforks... and that's not even counting the online merchandisers and porn outfits.


Sam Huntington said...

In either case, however, the so-called leaks of dirty politics happen after the fact. By the time this fine blog tells us about some heinous act by some petty government functionary who is more impressed with himself than he actual title and function might suggest —the damage has already been done. So now, I wonder if the real reason of this kill switch law is to keep Americans from sharing ideas about government and the future of our nation —more than it does about the shenanigans of Washington politics. In this sense alone, the law is extraordinarily dangerous. The Congress has behaved unconstitutionally. What we must do now is challenge this law, once signed, and allow the Supreme Court to decide whether the Congress has acted constitutionally in proposing such a law.

A.C. McCloud said...

Agree 100 percent on challenging this with the SCOTUS.

I do believe, however, that we can't allow open and free speech laws to act as a poison pill to the republic, such as with Wikileaks, etc. Something has to be done.

Dr Purva Pius said...
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