Proposed U.S. Senate bill would grant Obama Internet ‘kill switch’

The new Mac mini - Redesigned in a very big way.“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,” Declan McCullagh reports for CNET.

“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,” McCullagh reports. “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,” McCullagh reports. “Lieberman is an independent senator from Connecticut who meets with the Democrats.”

McCullagh reports, “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.”

Under Lieberman’s Bill, which is formally titled Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, or PCNAA “the Federal Government’s power to force private companies to comply with emergency decrees would become unusually broad,” McCullagh reports. “Any company on a list created by Homeland Security that also ‘relies on’ the internet, the telephone system or any other component of the US ‘information infrastructure’ would be subject to command by a new National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications (NCCC) that would be created inside Homeland Security.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Numerous politicians have seized absolute power and muzzled the press. Never in history has the press seized absolute power and muzzled the politicians. – David Brinkley

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Their insatiable lust for power is only equaled by their incurable impotence in exercising it. – Winston Churchill

It is said that power corrupts, but actually it’s more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power. – David Brin

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[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up.]


  1. The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Thursday, June 17, 2010 shows that 26% of the nation’s voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as president. Forty-six percent (46%) Strongly Disapprove, giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -20.

    I want to meet one of these 26-percenters who “strongly approve” of Obama. They have to be the most deluded, gullible saps on the face of the planet.

    While the country drowns in debt and joblessness and the gulf coast drowns in oil, Obama has already played more rounds of golf in 18 months than Bush played in his entire two terms.

    Obama voters: You were hoodwinked by an empty suit. It’s okay to admit it.

  2. This should state “grant the *President*” not Obama. He’ll be out of office one day but the power will remain with the office. Stating it the way you have MDN is unnecessarily inflammatory.

    Now, is this a necessary power to have? Given the state of US infrastructure security the answer is sadly yes.

  3. I tend to agree with the ‘Darkness’, at least partially. The internet has become one of the most critical elements of the infrastructure (not just for US, but the world). As such, it has become rather easy to exploit for extremely malicious deeds.

    It doesn’t take too much imagination to picture a scenario in which the internet could be leveraged to launch a concentrated attack on key institutions in the US, and crippling of the communication infrastructure could easily cause collapse of all sorts.

    Unfortunately, the ‘kill switch’ wouldn’t provide much relief, if any, except in very exceptional situations (when some malicious effort was siphoning critical sensitive data and disabling the network were to stop it). Otherwise, killing the communication infrastructure can easily kill all economic activity. The recession of past two years would be nothing compared to what could happen if the internet were ‘killed’ by such a switch.

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