This is a topic of Concern Please be aware of what is going on behind the Health Care Bill and other media presented issues.
"A Senate bill that put civil libertarians on edge earlier this year is still in the works: CNET obtained a copy of the current revision of S.773, a
measure that would give the president authority to disconnect the private Internet networks during a "cybersecurity emergency."
The original bill, introduced by Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) in April, called for an Office of the National
Cybersecurity Advisor that would have vast powers over Internet traffic. In other words, Internet oversight would move from the Department of Homeland
Security to the White House.
Criticism of S.773 has focused on its vagueness and lack of clear limits on the executive powers it creates. It does not define clearly what would
constitute a "cyber-emergency," and mandates that private companies share unlimited information of an unspecified nature with the federal
government. "Imagine the control that ambiguity can do for someone in terms of power," Newsvine blogger Lars Hindley wrote. The Department of
Homeland Security has also argued that shuffling the authority is an unnecessary bother.
Rockefeller and Snowe introduced the bill as a crucial "comprehensive" cybersecurity plan, but also listed "protecting civil liberties" as one of
its primary goals. Rockefeller explained that giving the White House the authority to flip the switch on crucial private networks is necessary to
protect critical infrastructure including water, electricity, banking, and electronic records.
The bill is in draft mode, but recent revisions still include broad, vague, presidential authority. "I think the redraft, while improved, remains
troubling due to its vagueness," said Larry Clinton, president of the Internet Security Alliance. "It is unclear what authority Sen. Rockefeller
thinks is necessary over the private sector. Unless this is clarified, we cannot properly analyse, let alone support the bill."
"The new version would allow the president to "declare a cybersecurity emergency" relating to "non-governmental" computer networks and do what's
necessary to respond to the threat. Other sections of the proposal include a federal certification program for "cybersecurity professionals," and a
requirement that certain computer systems and networks in the private sector be managed by people who have been awarded that license."
A few things to keep in mind. One: the president already has the authority to shut down parts of the Internet in emergencies.
The bill restates the power and expands it to make sure that any system that is too big to fail cannot be allowed to fail at the expense at the rest
of the system. The analogy the bill's authors use is that of the president's power to order all aircraft to land in the event of a system wide
emergency. That power is -- powerful! -- but we're generally OK with it. The Internet, of course, is different, in kind and expanse. There's a broad
sense that it should be free, unfettered, and allowed to evolve on its own. There's a broad sense that the Internet is to citizens today what guns
were to civillian militias of the founding era -- the trench line against tyranny