While the Middle East crisis continues to simmer or boil over in Egypt’s case, American lawmakers revisit the need to implement an Internet kill switch for the U.S.
The need for such aggressive measures by any government has played out in recent days and U.S. lawmakers have dusted off their playbooks and will take a hard look at the need to “protect” its constituents from a so-called cyber attack.
Leading the charge are Senators Joe Lieberman (I-Conn) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) who point to WikiLeaks as a reason to control the Internet cyber space. The bill titled, “Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act,” would give the president the authority to track critical cyber-infrastructure lists. This legislation would give the president the ability to turn off the Internet without any judicial review. Something the world is now witnessing in Egypt.
However, Senator Collins claims the “switch” would be different in the United States. “It would provide a mechanism for the government to work with the private sector in the event of a true cyber emergency,” she explained. “It would give our nation the best tools available to swiftly respond to a significant treat.”
Does she mean a threat like a country-wide uprising against an out-of-control government?
The unprecedented crackdown of Egypt’s dictator, Hosni Mubarak, to shut off the Internet, outside TV and cell phone services prompted immediate criticism from the Obama Administration. It’s ironic they are asking for the same “kill switch” technology for Americans.
Experts agree that if the U.S. government shut-down the Internet the ramifications would be far-reaching. A majority of the population currently uses the World Wide Web to get its news coverage as well as monitor their financial accounts or pay their bills.
American’s need to learn from Egypt’s hard-line with Internet services says Dan Costa of PC Magazine.
“The surprising thing isn’t that a corrupt, authoritarian regime would launch this kind of state-sponsored denial off service attack on its own citizens,” Costa said. “Nor that it is willing to jeopardize its economy by cutting its business off from the world markets. No, the thing that surprises me is that the U.S. government has plans for its own Internet ‘kill switch.’”
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