In early April, Representative Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) introduced a bill (S.773) in Congress that would allow the U.S. Federal Government to take control of and shut down the Internet should there be any “cyber-emergencies.” What is a cyber-emergency, you may ask? Quite honestly, nobody really knows. After this bill received criticism for giving the government too much power of intrusion, a newer, yet equally disturbing, version of the bill was reintroduced in Congress on Thursday. In order to please the critics, this bill was revised to be “less intrusive”; yet, the revision is even vaguer than the original. Larry Clinton, President of the Internet Security Alliance, stated of this bill:
"The current language is so unclear that we can’t be confident that the changes have actually been made.”
Essentially, it is quite possible that, even with the revision, President Obama would still have the right to declare a “cyber-emergency” and shut down the Internet whenever he feels it to be appropriate. Gotta love loopholes.
One thing that is particularly mindboggling is the question of who exactly supports this bill. Many Democrats wouldn’t approve because it infringes upon their precious civil liberties; conservatives do not approve because the bill involves government regulation of a private market. Who exactly does Congress think they’re appeasing with this abhorrent legislation?
Franck Journoud, a policy analyst with the Business Software Alliance released the following statement:
"It’s the industry, not the government. We have a responsibility to increase and improve security. That responsibility cannot be captured in a government standard."
While there is no doubt that Internet security must be tightened and overhauled, this is not a job for the government. The computer industry is very diverse and can not possibly be efficiently regulated under a certain set of rules enacted by the government.
Thank you, Congress, for making such efficient use out of your time and America’s tax dollars.
For a full summary of the bill, click here.