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Emergency Government Control of the Internet? 853

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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  • by hackingbear ( 988354 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @02:03PM (#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 Drakin020 ( 980931 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @02:05PM (#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 Anonymous Coward on Friday August 28, 2009 @02:14PM (#29233793)

    The writers of dystopian science fiction are getting a great boon from the current administration, if no one else is.
    Drudge is an AGGREGATOR of news stories.
    He includes the likes of the NYtimes as well...

    Nice try.


  • by FooAtWFU ( 699187 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @02:18PM (#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 isd.bz ( 1260658 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @02:33PM (#29234119)
    Lawrence Lessig already warned us about this, though he predicted it would occur after whatever this 'cyber-security emergency' is. See the short video here [youtube.com].
  • Re:Fooled again? (Score:5, Informative)

    by jdgeorge ( 18767 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @02:38PM (#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:Backwards (Score:5, Informative)

    by pixelpusher220 ( 529617 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @02:55PM (#29234461)
    minor nit:
    Pelosi and co are not 'the administration'.

    I'm just about as liberal as they come and I'd gladly jettison Pelosi and Reid for some competent leadership, but 'the administration' is Obama and the Whitehouse, not Congress.
  • Re:Backwards (Score:4, Informative)

    by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @03:10PM (#29234689) Journal

    minor nit:

    They are the same party, they meet inside the White House with Obama, and they coordinate with one another to craft bills. They are as much a part of the administration as the vice-president. Perhaps moreso.

  • Re:Fooled again? (Score:3, Informative)

    by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @03:16PM (#29234769) Homepage

    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 leaders who don't actually stick to their liberal guns. (By contrast, right-wing media organizations and think tanks tend to swiftly punish those who dared question Bush, usually by firing them.)

  • Re:Backwards (Score:4, Informative)

    by Zancarius ( 414244 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @03:27PM (#29234901) Homepage Journal

    I'm just about as liberal as they come and I'd gladly jettison Pelosi and Reid for some competent leadership, but 'the administration' is Obama and the Whitehouse, not Congress.

    Pelosi and Reid may not be the administration, but if you don't believe they have a significant pull over what Obama does (hint: nothing without their express blessing), you're kidding yourself. I'm not even so sure that the administration is fully aware of the power drain they have suffered with this congress...

  • Re:Backwards (Score:4, Informative)

    by Martin Blank ( 154261 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @03:47PM (#29235183) Homepage Journal

    In order to secede, you'd have to get a constitutional amendment passed. The Supreme Court's decision in Texas v. White [cornell.edu] laid out in no uncertain terms that the Constitution allows only joining the union, and does not allow for leaving it. From their decision (edited somewhat and emphasis added):

    The Union of the States never was a purely artificial and arbitrary relation. It began among the Colonies, and grew out of common origin, mutual sympathies, kindred principles, similar interests, and geographical relations. ... And when these Articles [of Confederation] were found to be inadequate to the exigencies of the country, the Constitution was ordained "to form a more perfect Union." It is difficult to convey the idea of indissoluble unity more clearly than by these words. What can be indissoluble if a perpetual Union, made more perfect, is not?

    But the perpetuity and indissolubility of the Union by no means implies the loss of distinct and individual existence, or of the right of self-government, by the States. ... And we have already had occasion to remark at this term that

    the people of each State compose a State, having its own government, and endowed with all the functions essential to separate and independent existence,

    and that, "without the States in union, there could be no such political body as the United States." Not only, therefore, can there be no loss of separate and independent autonomy to the States through their union under the Constitution, but it may be not unreasonably said that the preservation of the States, and the maintenance of their governments, are as much within the design and care of the Constitution as the preservation of the Union and the maintenance of the National government. The Constitution, in all its provisions, looks to an indestructible Union composed of indestructible States.

    When, therefore, Texas became one of the United States, she entered into an indissoluble relation. All the obligations of perpetual union, and all the guaranties of republican government in the Union, attached at once to the State.

  • Re:Backwards (Score:1, Informative)

    by Jeff Archambeault ( 41488 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @03:55PM (#29235309) Homepage

    Steam?!?! Isn't that VERY HOT DHMO!?!?! That can't be good, according to http://www.dhmo.org/ [dhmo.org] !!

    Seriously, amateur radio operators are subject to FCC Part 97 rules, and specifically, http://www.arrl.org/FandES/field/regulations/news/part97/e.html#407 [arrl.org] (b). "In the event of an emergency which necessitates invoking the President's War Emergency Powers under the provisions of section 706 of the Communications Act of 1934..." amateur radio as a hobby would be put on hold. That rule applies only to frequencies that amateurs are licensed to use. Obama, and any other president since 1934, could invoke said Powers, but I don't see how they could apply to non-wireless or unlicensed wireless communications. The Gov can shut down it's interstate highways, international borders, airspace, licensed radio spectrum, etc at it's discretion. When governments shut down cell phone networks, well, see the recent events in Iran.

    Would or could the government jam the unlicensed spectrum that wifi uses? If "no", wireless mesh networks FTW! Otherwise, maybe we'll be saying "Never underestimate the bandwidth of a backpack full of usb flash drives," as long as some state borders are left open.

    Good thing we'll still be able to build steam-powered spark-gap generators, tho! ;)

  • Not So Fast (Score:4, Informative)

    by CaffeineJedi ( 643314 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @03:58PM (#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 Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @03:58PM (#29235351)

    These are men who've chosen to use the implicit threat of violence against their political opponents.

    As opposed to the members of the New Black Panther Party who stood outside a polling place and threatened violence against those they perceived as likely to vote against their preferred candidate?

  • by Martin Blank ( 154261 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @04:00PM (#29235377) Homepage Journal

    Article I, Section 9, allows Congress to suspend habeas corpus "when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion, the public Safety may require it." It's not exactly martial law, but it would allow Congress to grant a great deal of power to government agencies to undertake actions normally not allowed. It will depend on how the Supreme Court interprets the "Rebellion or Invasion" phrasing. If it's a group of Americans undertaking an action that puts significant lives at risk (messing with SCADA networks, targeting significant servers connected over the Internet, etc.), that could be interpreted as rebellion sufficient to warrant such action, even if it's by a small group of people. Similar action undertaken from outside of the country could be termed an invasion, even though no foreign hostile sets foot on US soil. But there may be significant hesitation to back this if there's evidence that it's a group of five to ten people in either case.

  • Re:Backwards (Score:5, Informative)

    by jmorris42 ( 1458 ) * <jmorrisNO@SPAMbeau.org> on Friday August 28, 2009 @04:09PM (#29235491)

    > The Supreme Court's decision... [blah blah]

    I'm really getting tired of this notion of the Supreme Court trumping everything including basic reading comprehension. This isn't some bad Star Trek episode (The Omega Glory) where the 'sacred words' are only for a few, we are all supposed to read and be able to understand them.


    1. The original Articles of Confederation did include a perpetual union clause. Didn't stop the States from dropping out and reforming under the current Constitution.

    2. The States are soverign, the USA is but a creation of them.

    3. Nothing actually IN the constitution even implies states may not leave. Several attempts were made by the the very people who wrote the damned thing.

    > In order to secede, you'd have to get a constitutional amendment passed.

    No, that wouldn't stop em. The primary reason state are wanting out is because the Federal government has been wiping their arses on the Constitution for decades. If the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 9th and 10th Amendments are ALL dead letters it would be madness to believe a new one would be honored. No, there is only one way out if a State wishes to leave: Possession of one or more fusion bombs and a working delivery system. The current Federal Government is all about force, thus the credible threat of force is the only thing it would respect.

  • Re:Backwards (Score:3, Informative)

    by AP31R0N ( 723649 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @04:47PM (#29235937)

    Working together doesn't make them part of the administration. The administration is Obama and his appointees who he will take with him when he leaves.

    Senators are not part of any administration. Administration members are not senators either.

    If you need to lump them, call them lieberals or libtards. If you need to say they are blindly obedient, call them Obamabots or Obamatons.

  • Re:Backwards (Score:4, Informative)

    by reboot246 ( 623534 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @04:48PM (#29235949) Homepage
    Whether you supported the Bush administration or not (I voted for him twice - lesser of two evils each time), you have to admit that Congress spent like drunken sailors during his two terms. Yes, spending bills originate in the House and have to pass the Senate, too, but Bush didn't veto anything in his first term and very damned little in his second.
  • by BobMcD ( 601576 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @05:00PM (#29236087)

    You may not be aware, but Obama's appointees dropped the charges against the Panthers being referred to here. Look into it a bit, but I think you'll agree that what those men did was far more threatening than the men carrying guns to prove a point. The fact that you didn't draw the inference right away also speaks to the difference in media coverage between the two events.

  • by BobMcD ( 601576 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @05:08PM (#29236157)

    She probably did that for a particular purpose, however. She did, before pointing out the carrying, say they were Astroturfing. Gore did the same thing, with the same 'brownshirt' label back in 2004.

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2009/08/08/nancys_nazi_shock_did_she_forget_the_bush_years_97812.html [realclearpolitics.com]

    Both sides do it whenever they feel like at and both sides are always appalled when it happens year after year.

    (The careful observer will note the charade...)

  • Re:Backwards (Score:3, Informative)

    by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @05:14PM (#29236211) Journal

    >>>If the government was to regulate the Internet (above what they do presently), then the 9th or 10th ammendments won't come into play. State-level control of the Internet isn't an idea even worthy of laughing at. It's got to be controlled on the national level, if it's to be controlled at all.

    That's not how it works for the phone system, which is very similar to the internet (connections of wires for transferring communications over many miles). The phone system is controlled by the U.S. FCC but *only* if the company in question is interstate. If the company exists wholly and completely within a state (say, California) then the U.S. has no authority to regulate that company. Only the CA legislature has jurisdiction per the Communications Act of 1934.

    The same principles apply to ISPs. Congress may exert power over lines that cross borders, but they have no authority to interfere with intrastate companies like "Mom's ISP of Ohio". That job falls to the Ohio government.

    THAT'S the relevance of the 9th and 10th amendments.

  • Re:Backwards (Score:5, Informative)

    by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @05:45PM (#29236625) Journal

    >>>People like you just piss me off. You read some right wing horse shit and go around spouting i

    How are you any better? You are simply repeating the Obama and Democratic talking points ("50 million people uninsured") without ever bothering to examine if this number is the truth, or merely propaganda. Well I've done the research and here's the deal:

    - The 50 million number comes a Census *mailin survey* which is completely unscientific and therefore invalid. The Congressional Budget Office says that any point-in-time 7% of Americans *temporarily* uninsured. In other words, between jobs. But they are not completely uninsured because they are protected by government unemployment benefits and COBRA.

    - About 10% of the American population consists of people like me - we are wealthy enough to buy insurance, but we voluntarily choose NOT to buy insurance. There are a number of reasons for this. Mine is that I think insurance is a scam and it's cheaper for me to simply pay my ~$200 a year doctor visit.

    - About 3% are not citizens, so even under Obamacare, they still would not be covered. And then there's the many people that checked "I'm not insured" on the Census mail-in poll, but in reality they are insured - by Medicaid or SCHIP or SSI. About 20%.

    BOTTOM LINE- There are only 8 million U.S. citizens who *want* insurance but are not covered by private or government plans.
    That's it.

  • Re:Backwards (Score:3, Informative)

    by bendodge ( 998616 ) <bendodge.bsgprogrammers@com> on Friday August 28, 2009 @06:00PM (#29236827) Homepage Journal

    The Supreme Court is part of the judicial branch, as outlined in your nearest US Constitution. The Fed is a central bank created by Congress. Congress was specifically granted the power to do this in the Constitution. Now, they also have the power to destroy that central bank or do just about anything else to it. That's why you should support HR 1207 and S 604, the Federal Reserve Transparency Act of 2009, also known as Audit the Fed, sponsored by Rep. Ron Paul [R-Tex]. http://www.ronpaul.com/on-the-issues/audit-the-federal-reserve-hr-1207/ [ronpaul.com]
    Make sure ALL your congresscritters are on that list.

  • Re:Backwards (Score:2, Informative)

    by Jeff Archambeault ( 41488 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @06:49PM (#29237411) Homepage

    Actually, there is a portion of the 802.11b/g 2400-2450 MHz wifi band that falls within FCC Part 97 rules. Amateurs have the ability to use high power and very high gain antennas on a couple channels (-1 and o, iirc) using WRT-56G and the like. There is a page at ARRL regarding "the hinternet" and HSMM at http://www.arrl.org/tis/info/HTML/high-speed-digital/ [arrl.org] and http://www.n5oom.org/hsmm/index.htm [n5oom.org] has some good technical links. The ARRL seems to have dropped the HSMM ball, perhaps due to pressure from the WISP lobby.

    Yes, D-Star and other VHF packet setups are slow, up to a whopping 9600bps or so. The band is only so wide, we gotta share the bandwidth. There is more elbow room elsewhere.

    But in case of a real emergency, amateurs will loose all non-emergency communication privileges within the bits of the radio spectrum covered by Part 97 rules.. Maybe hardcore /. users can lobby for creating an internet equivalent to http://www.usraces.org/ [usraces.org] (cough cough)

  • Re:Backwards (Score:3, Informative)

    by ahabswhale ( 1189519 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @07:00PM (#29237533)
    Actually, Clinton was the first president since 1980 to reduce the size of the deficit (as a percentage of GDP). The last person to do it prior to Clinton was Carter. The difference between the R's and D's is that the R's love to spend money and not pay for it, while the D's love to spend money and (usually) try to pay for it. Another fundamental difference is what they like to spend money on.
  • Re:Texas (Score:2, Informative)

    by sebaseba ( 1617571 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @09:48PM (#29238741) Homepage
  • Re:Backwards (Score:5, Informative)

    by ajlisows ( 768780 ) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @02:04AM (#29240137)

    - About 10% of the American population consists of people like me - we are wealthy enough to buy insurance, but we voluntarily choose NOT to buy insurance. There are a number of reasons for this. Mine is that I think insurance is a scam and it's cheaper for me to simply pay my ~$200 a year doctor visit.

    Man, it is your prerogative but I think you need to realize that insurance isn't about your $200 a year doctor visit.

    Insurance is basically a lottery that you essentially do not want to win. To win means you have suffered an injury or illness well in excess of what you (or you and your company) have put into it. I don't know HOW wealthy you are but money can get chewed up really really fast if you suffer any kind of major medical issue. You just got cancer? After doctors visits, specialists visits, tests, scans, medications, chemo, surgery, rehab, hospital stays, and costs I am failing to mention....you are going to be looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars.Maybe you are young, active, eat well, don't smoke, don't drink, and do everything right but that does not mean you are immune to cancer. Hell, even a good compound leg fracture is likely to cost you nearly $50,000.

    Insurance companies make their money, no doubt. Most of the time you are essentially paying lots of money for other people to get treated and for the insurance companies to show a profit...but if you do happen to need it the ROI is extremely high.

  • Re:Backwards (Score:4, Informative)

    by MrHim ( 703476 ) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @03:07AM (#29240455)

    Well I've done the research and here's the deal:

    The 50 million number comes a Census *mailin survey* which is completely unscientific and therefore invalid.

    You've done the research? Care to provide a citation for your claims?

    The 50 (sometimes 47) million number that is often quoted comes from SAHIE [census.gov]. A quick glance at the about [census.gov] page will show you that:

    The SAHIE program models health insurance coverage by combining survey data with population estimates and administrative records. Our estimates are based on data from the following sources:

    * The Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC) of the Current Population Survey (CPS);
    * Demographic population estimates;
    * Aggregated federal tax returns;
    * Participation records for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp program;
    * County Business Patterns;
    * Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) participation records; and
    * Census 2000.

    If you want to dig deaper then checkout the data inputs [census.gov] section.

    BOTTOM LINE: it is not a "mailin" survey or anything of the sort. 47 million is the best, educated guess of the number of uninsured based on data from a wide variety of sources collected in 2005 and compiled by SAHIE; 50 million if you look at the 2006 data.

  • Re:Hands off! (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 29, 2009 @10:01AM (#29242357)

    I can link to Wikipedia too:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streisand_effect [wikipedia.org]

    Hint: Not all of the Internet is located in the United States

  • Re:Backwards (Score:3, Informative)

    by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @10:11AM (#29242453) Journal

    Judge Napolitano says, "The camcorder is the new gun," because many patriots are using the camera to capture State abuses, and reveal those abuses to the population at large.

    No wonder cops immediately demand that you turn-off your camera. They know their actions are illegal and don't want them to be caught on video or audio.

  • Re:Backwards (Score:2, Informative)

    by bhartman34 ( 886109 ) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @12:29PM (#29243895)

    Virginia did it (split itself into two states), Why can't other states follow the same procedure?

    That's not really what happened. What happened was that West Virginia broke away from Virginia during the Civil War. This meant that:

    1) West Virginia seceded from the Confederacy, which recognized secession as legitimate.

    2) Virginia didn't split "itself", exactly. The citizens of West Virginia simply unilaterally did it (which is different than if the state legislature, for example, makes the "decision").

    3) West Virginia seceded and became a territory, not a state. It was still the U.S. federal government's action (by voting them in) that made West Virginia a state.

FORTRAN is not a flower but a weed -- it is hardy, occasionally blooms, and grows in every computer. -- A.J. Perlis