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Emergency Government Control of the Internet? 853

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the big-brother-bigger-than-ever dept.
TheZid writes "A newly proposed bill would give Uncle Sam the power to disconnect private sector computers from the internet in the event of a 'cyber security emergency.' As usual, our government is trying to take away our privacy by citing security. What actually counts as a 'Cyber-Security Emergency?' Does the president now have the option of disconnecting people when they disagree with his policies? How about disconnecting bloggers that criticize his health care reform? What counts as an emergency? Can political opponents be deemed a cyber-security emergency?"
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Emergency Government Control of the Internet?

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  • Backwards (Score:5, Insightful)

    by janeuner (815461) on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:00PM (#29233563)

    Someone needs emergency control to disconnect Uncle Sam from the internet.

    • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:02PM (#29233585) Journal

      I call it the 1337th Ammendment.

      • Re:Backwards (Score:5, Insightful)

        by commodore64_love (1445365) on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:10PM (#29233739) Journal

        The 9th and 10th Amendments will suffice. We just need to surround the Supreme Court and force the judges to read them, rather than ignore them.

        BTW is this the "change" you were looking for? ;-)

        • Re:Backwards (Score:5, Insightful)

          by reboot246 (623534) on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:14PM (#29233809) Homepage
          'Tis a shame that the government considers us citizens the enemy, even more of a threat than any outside force.

          Watch what is happening very closely and pay attention. You're seeing the fall of a once great republic.
          • Re:Backwards (Score:5, Insightful)

            by symbolset (646467) on Friday August 28, 2009 @02:42PM (#29235115) Journal
            Most of the founders of this republic considered a government run amok the greatest threat to its citizens. They tried to protect future generations from their own foolishness. Unfortunately foolishness is a persistent and powerful force.
        • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:19PM (#29233891) Journal

          It sounds like they'd only shut off their access to the outside world in the hopes to cut off cyberthreats like North Korean hackers trying to access nukes.

          LoL. Well I live in Canada. The US Government can do whatever they want with their internets. It'll suck because the Halo servers will be down, along with Steam, WoW, Battlefield... ... ... ...

          *sigh*

          • Re:Backwards (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Hadlock (143607) on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:26PM (#29234023) Homepage Journal

            I'm forming the Steam Political Alliance to keep the government out of my Steam! I NEED my TF2. :shakes angry fist:
             
            Actually, I'm suprised HAMs haven't created a resiliant point to point civilian network yet. When the physical backbone goes down, I guess there's sattelite, but it's hard to beat point to point optical networks for mobility and reliability and hard to jam "frequencies" (unless it rains, or is cloudy, or...).

  • Summary (Score:5, Funny)

    by Eternauta3k (680157) on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:02PM (#29233587) Homepage Journal

    Does the president now have the option of disconnecting people when they disagree with his policies? Disconnect bloggers that criticize his health-reform? What counts as an emergency, can political opponents be deemed a cyber security emergency?"

    Jesus christ man, leave something for the comments!

  • by gilleain (1310105) on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:02PM (#29233593)

    Does the president now have the option of disconnecting people when they disagree with his policies?

    Perhaps he could have a big red button on his desk labelled "BAN", and could amuse himself by disconnecting people that make fun of him? The summary seems a little alarmist...

  • Fooled again? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by UndyingShadow (867720) on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:02PM (#29233595)
    Meet the new boss...same as the old boss.
    • Re:Fooled again? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:06PM (#29233663)

      exactly - imagine the outrage and vitriol we would have seen had this occurred a year ago.

    • Re:Fooled again? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Archangel Michael (180766) on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:37PM (#29234185) Journal

      If this were GWB the left would be (Rightfully) screaming at the top of their lungs. I'm not going to hold my breath though.

      Because we all know that GWB = Evil and BHO is just misguided but good hearted.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Qzukk (229616)

        If this were GWB the left would be (Rightfully) screaming at the top of their lungs. I'm not going to hold my breath though.

        If you'll bother to think back 10 years ago, you'd recall that the slashdot hivemind was just as outraged over Clinton's Echelon.

        If you're not going to hold your breath, could you at least move over a bit, you're in the way of our screaming.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by dkleinsc (563838)

        You would in fact find the left screaming about this, no matter where it came from.

        And if you've ever read the real liberal media (I'm talking rags like Salon and The Nation, not so much the NY Times or NBC), you'd find that the left is criticizing the Obama administration rather heavily for continuing a lot of bad Bush administration policies regarding illegal wiretapping, "extraordinary rendition", and torture. One of the "weaknesses" of the left wing politics is an utter lack of loyalty to political lead

      • Racism (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Kohath (38547)

        Criticism of Obama makes you a racist, didn't you know?

        Also, you're a racist if calling you a racist advances a leftist agenda. And if you defend yourself, you're just like a Klan member.

    • Re:Fooled again? (Score:5, Informative)

      by jdgeorge (18767) on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:38PM (#29234197)

      Yes, if when you say "boss", you mean "US Senate", where this bill was introduced.

      In any case, supporting that sentiment that elected officials of opposing parties are not significantly distinguishable, note that this bill in its original form [loc.gov] was a bipartisan bill, as one of the co-sponsors, Sen Snowe, Olympia J. [ME], is a member of the GOP.

      • Re:Fooled again? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by NiteShaed (315799) on Friday August 28, 2009 @02:35PM (#29235025)

        I'm actually aiming this at pretty much all of the sibling posts so far.....

        So, since she doesn't walk in perfect lock-step with the "core" of the Republican party, she's not really a Republican? Apparently the GOP disagrees, since she's y'know, a member of the party.

        This kind of thinking drives me crazy. If the only point of a politician was to enforce their party's goals with no room for disagreement, then why bother having more than three people in each house of Congress? We could just assign one member of each party to be "The (party affiliation here) Senator" or "The (party affiliation here) Representative", and have an election to see which party picks up the extra person to give their party the majority. Then they could just function as a mouthpiece for the party, and do away with all that independent thinking stuff. In the event of a tie, the third chair stays empty.

        Honestly, we need more congress-people who pay less attention to party directives and think for themselves, not less.

      • Not So Fast (Score:4, Informative)

        by CaffeineJedi (643314) on Friday August 28, 2009 @02:58PM (#29235339)

        was a bipartisan bill, as one of the co-sponsors, Sen Snowe, Olympia J. [ME], is a member of the GOP.

        Olympia Snowe votes with Democrats more than Republicans. She was one of the only three Republicans in the Senate and House that voted on the $787 billion spending bill. One of those "Republicans," Arlen Specter, is now a Democrat.

        Here is a visualization [oreilly.com] which performs an energy minimization mapping to group politicians by their voting record.

        You can clearly see where Olympia Snowe votes in relation to the two parties. Saying this bill is bi-partisan is a more than a bit of a stretch.

  • by hackingbear (988354) on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:03PM (#29233613)

    What actually counts as a 'Cyber-Security Emergency?' Does the president now have the option of disconnecting people when they disagree with his policies? Disconnect bloggers that criticize his health-reform? What counts as an emergency, can political opponents be deemed a cyber security emergency?

    Politicians in this country are all PR/marketing super-talents. Do you think they will or need to do something this unpolished?

    • by blueg3 (192743) on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:10PM (#29233737)

      Surely you appreciate that the only thing keeping Ron Paul and the libertarians from taking over and fixing the country's problems is that The Man spies on every red-blooded American citizen and silences their political dissent by sending them off to Guantanamo.

      With Gitmo being closed, The Man needs another means of keeping silent the influential bloggers that could otherwise oust them from power.

      What's surprising is that Big Brother actually let information about this new plan slip out to the sheeple, rather than keeping it under wraps (just like Area 51 and Apollo).

  • by popo (107611) on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:04PM (#29233627) Homepage

    I'd be willing to bet that there isn't a single industry left that doesn't rely heavily on the Internet. Shutting down the Internet is the same as shutting down the economy.

  • by Drakin020 (980931) on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:05PM (#29233643)
    1. The original legislation was proposed back in April and hasn't gone anywhere. At this point I think it's just lacking supporters.

    2. From the actual Bill:

    (2) may declare a cybersecurity emergency and order the limitation or shutdown of Internet traffic to and from any compromised Federal Government or United States critical infrastructure information system or network;

    (5) shall direct the periodic mapping of Federal Government and United States critical infrastructure information systems or networks, and shall develop metrics to measure the effectiveness of the mapping process;

    (6) may order the disconnection of any Federal Government or United States critical infrastructure information systems or networks in the interest of national security"....

    This meaning that basically any government related network such as national power grids, water plants. (Things that don't need to be accessible from the internet to begin with) will be under the control of the president during a time of an emergency.

    This doesn't affect the (Internet) as a whole. The internet is not a central computer that sits in a government warehouse with an On/Off button. The internet is a protocol, not an object. Basically it is the collection of various servers and networking devices from all over the world.

    You simple can't just "Turn it off" which is what many people are fearing.

    So in short, if we the united states was under some kind of Cyber attack, the President could not turn off (Slashdot.org, digg.com, weather.com) but they could control the networks of those that are government related.

    I still haven't read through the entire bill yet, but that seems to be the basic summary.

    • by wytcld (179112) on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:10PM (#29233729) Homepage

      I love the suggestion that this would be used to strangle public blogging against the plan to kill our grandmothers by forcing down their throats the unborn children of the last of our unsterilized white teen girls.

      How perfectly nutty. And by "perfect" I mean overwhelmingly beautiful.

    • by east coast (590680) on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:17PM (#29233841)
      You simple can't just "Turn it off" which is what many people are fearing.

      You obviously don't know the US government.

      While I agree that what you have posted of the bill looks pretty harmless this could be the beginning of a new slippery slope. This could lead to additions to ISP that would allow the government to lock all private user accounts, throttle bandwidth and/or throw domestic web servers off the grid.

      We've seen legislation passed with open ended restrictions and it's a scary to think what can happen from administration to administration with no more than a decree from one man. And with both the legislative and executive branch being under the control of one party it makes it all the worse.

      While I don't think it will pass I don't want to find out the hard way.
    • by FooAtWFU (699187) on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:18PM (#29233865) Homepage

      Some big complaints I gleaned from other news sources seem to include the fact that if you're deemed a "critical" enough place, then

      a new set of regulations kick in involving who you can hire, what information you must disclose, and when the government would exercise control over your computers or network.

      -- CNET [cnet.com]

      The EFF further complains "The designation of what is a critical infrastructure system or network as far as I can tell has no specific process. There's no provision for any administrative process or review. That's where the problems seem to start. And then you have the amorphous powers that go along with it."

      So, random government intrusion in random places which are "critical". Blargh. "Be more specific please" is the complaint.

    • by Churla (936633) on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:20PM (#29233911)

      A) Who defines a "critical system"? Whoever that is would be wielding some serious power.
      B) Is the Internet itself (i.e. the backbones which carry most traffic) considered a "critical infrastructure information system"?
      C) If so, they he would have the kill switch to Mae East, Mae West, etc.... That is for all effects and purposes the ability to shut down US access to the Internet.

  • by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:07PM (#29233687) Homepage
    Well, I can't think of anything better than the UN, but I'm still not entirely happy with it.
  • by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:11PM (#29233749) Homepage Journal

    Disconnect bloggers that criticize his health-reform?

    I think people who believe this level of stupidity deserve to be disconnected from the Internet. They are fucking damage, and I'm getting tired of routing around them.

  • by Red Flayer (890720) on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:13PM (#29233781) Journal
    Look, there are a TON of legitimate complaints about this bill.

    Abuse of government powers in violation of free speech for political gain, etc, shouldn't be included. Those issues have already been addressed... the federal government already has the ability to step in and limit free speech in private channels if there is clear and present danger. The potential for abuse is already there, and has been there all along. This bill in no way affects that.

    Your ridiculous leading questions detract from the real issues, which are outlined in TFA (for people that oppose a bill like this).

    IMO, instead of "ZOMGWTF Totalitarian State Abusing Government Powers for Political Gain!", the real issue here is that critical infrastructure is in the hands of private for-profit corporations. These companies have the ability to hamstring the US economically through unilateral action (or even by accident). Critical infrastructure should be nationalized, in my opinion, or at the very least very closely supervised to ensure it is secure.

    But I imagine that my views are contrary to the majority of slashdotters, and I expect to be modded into oblivion. No one wants the goobermint in their internets, even when oversight is necessary to maintain the integrity of our economy (such as it is), especially in the face of a directed and concerted attack on that infrastructure.
  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:21PM (#29233925) Homepage Journal
    I gotta go start chiseling naked women into rocks as a backup solution!
  • Privacy? Where? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by analog_line (465182) on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:23PM (#29233957)

    While it's quite a lot of things, being disconnected from the Internet is NOT a breach of my privacy. I hadn't heard that Echelon was dismantled, so I'm pretty sure that anything I send out unencrypted is being parsed (and anything encrypted stored for future reference) even without this particular emergency order. My stuff on my computer is still on my computer.

    And I know I'm going to get flamed for this, but frankly it's about time that this kind of thing was talked about and put into law. The bits of the Internet that are on sovereign US territory are most certainly vital national infrastructure by now, and the law needs to be updated. It's long past time that the US government, and the US population woke up to the threat vectors presented by the Internet, and deal with the hard questions surrounding what to do when the "cyber war" eventually happens, whether it's concerted non-state entities mounting an attack against Internet connected infrastructure or government/military Internet areas, or state entities. If we have finally decided, or are close to deciding, what level of "attack" through networks constitutes a declaration of war (and if we haven't, we damn well should be doing THAT too), then the POTUS as Commander In Chief needs to be able to do the kind of crap you do in an attack on your country. And putting into law is a LOT better than letting whomever is the President at the time make up his powers in that situation from the ether like the Bush Administration did. This particular bill may or may not be the correct answer, I haven't read it. Something like this, however, is going to and should be put in place. I'm all for using the political process to make it the best possible bill, but acting like the government shouldn't ever be able to do this kind of thing is fantasy.

  • by frazamatazzle (783144) on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:29PM (#29234069)
    otherwise I might see some posts with wildly hysterical hypotheses of what is for sure gonna happen that have nothing to do with the actual bill in the article.

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