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Archive for Sunday, September 27, 2009

Should government control the Internet?

Senate explored ways to give president power to shut down compromised sites

September 27, 2009

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Employees of Korea Internet Security Center work July 8 inside a monitoring room in Seoul, South Korea. There is no kill switch for the Internet, no secret on-off button in an Oval Office drawer. Yet when Congress was exploring ways to secure computer networks, a plan to give the president the power to shut down Internet traffic to Web sites in an emergency set off alarms. Corporate leaders and privacy advocates protested the idea earlier this year, saying the government must not seize control.

Employees of Korea Internet Security Center work July 8 inside a monitoring room in Seoul, South Korea. There is no kill switch for the Internet, no secret on-off button in an Oval Office drawer. Yet when Congress was exploring ways to secure computer networks, a plan to give the president the power to shut down Internet traffic to Web sites in an emergency set off alarms. Corporate leaders and privacy advocates protested the idea earlier this year, saying the government must not seize control.

— There’s no kill switch for the Internet, no secret on-off button in an Oval Office drawer.

Yet when a Senate committee was exploring ways to secure computer networks, a provision to give the president the power to shut down Internet traffic to compromised Web sites in an emergency set off alarms.

Corporate leaders and privacy advocates quickly objected, saying the government must not seize control of the Internet.

Lawmakers dropped it, but the debate rages on. How much control should federal authorities have over the Web in a crisis? How much should be left to the private sector? It does own and operate at least 80 percent of the Internet and argues it can do a better job.

“We need to prepare for that digital disaster,” said Melissa Hathaway, the former White House cybersecurity adviser. “We need a system to identify, isolate and respond to cyberattacks at the speed of light.”

So far at least 18 bills have been introduced as Congress works carefully to give federal authorities the power to protect the country in the event of a massive cyberattack. Lawmakers do not want to violate personal and corporate privacy or squelching innovation. All involved acknowledge it isn’t going to be easy.

For most people, the Internet is a public haven for free thought and enterprise. Over time it has become the electronic control panel for much of the world’s critical infrastructure. Computer networks today hold government secrets, military weapons specifications, sensitive corporate data, and vast amounts of personal information.

Millions of times a day, hackers, cybercriminals and mercenaries working for governments and private entities are scanning those networks, looking to defraud, disrupt or even destroy.

Just eight years ago, the government ordered planes from the sky in the hours after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Could or should the president have the same power over the Internet in a digital disaster?

If hackers take over a nuclear plant’s control system, should the president order the computer networks shut down? If there’s a terrorist attack, should the government knock users off other computer networks to ensure that critical systems stay online? And should the government be able to dictate who companies can hire and what they must do to secure the networks that affect Americans’ daily life?

Government officials say the U.S. must improve efforts to share information about cyberthreats with private industry. They also want companies to ensure they are using secure software and hiring qualified workers to run critical systems.

Much like the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, cybersecurity has attracted the interest of a number of House and Senate committees, all hoping to get a piece of the oversight power:

• Bills in the House Homeland Security Committee bills would protect the electric grid and require the department to secure its networks.

• The Senate Homeland Security and Government Reform Committee is writing legislation aimed largely at federal agencies.

• The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee is working on a bill that promotes public awareness and technical education, raises the planned White House cyberadviser to a Cabinet-level position and calls for professional cyberstandards. An early draft would have given the president the power to shut down compromised federal or critical networks in an emergency.

Bloggers howled that the government was taking over the Internet. Business leaders protested, and Senate aides reworked the bill. Early versions of the second draft are more vague, giving the president only the authority to “direct the national response” to a cyberthreat.

Committee spokeswoman Jena Longo said the bill “will not empower a government shutdown or takeover of the Internet and any suggestion otherwise is misleading and false.”

She said the president has the constitutional authority to protect the American people and direct the response to a crisis — including “securing our national cyberinfrastructure from attack.”

Privacy advocates say the government has not proven it can do a better job securing networks than the private sector.

Comments

igby 5 years, 3 months ago

Is this worse than Bush's wire tapping of terrorist?

Here is the topic of the day in the top secret security meeting at the White house!

Obama, wants to isolate all Americans in case their is a civil uprising over the Dems social agenda. They saw how well it worked in Iran and thought they may need to do this to keeps Americans from rioting in the streets and storming Penn. Ave..

Another example would be if Jesus Christ came back down from heaven the Dems would want to stop all Americans from learning about such nonsense because it could cause civil unrest and a holy uprising against their liberal government. They would want a chance to kill Jesus christ before the word got out on Twitter. Lol.

igby 5 years, 3 months ago

But wait!

That would make Obama, the anti-christ! Lol.

Alexander Neighbors 5 years, 3 months ago

Last time I checked terrorist don't have running water wtf is controling our internet have to do with an attack!!?

The gov't already can control the internet just look at the yellow house case guy and carrie neighbors were silenced and ordered to remove all blogs and internet postings or else be thrown in prison.......

igby 5 years, 3 months ago

It's funny that Darwin would have too travel half way around the world to a remote and isolated island to discover that plants and animals changed more rapidly when isolated in a fixed environ rather than a larger land mass with greater genetic variations of breeding and pollen exchanges. Survival, however, does require the later. Climate change has put Darwin's island on the brink of extinction.

Darwin was right in the micro but wrong in the macro!

Bless a monkey, their all right and don't even know it!

RobertMarble 5 years, 2 months ago

hahahaha! It looks like all the liberal dweebs are in for a big reality check soon. For all their blabbering about their freedom of speech & other civil rights, their agenda is resulting in more of those freedoms being restricted or done away with....while it's a bit satisfying to say "told you so", it's unfortunate that it took so long for the idiots to finally see it.......and there will still be plenty in denial.

jonas_opines 5 years, 2 months ago

Q: Did Boris or Robert even read the article before howling about the libs?

A: Probably not.

tomatogrower 5 years, 2 months ago

"If hackers take over a nuclear plant’s control system, should the president order the computer networks shut down? If there’s a terrorist attack, should the government knock users off other computer networks to ensure that critical systems stay online? And should the government be able to dictate who companies can hire and what they must do to secure the networks that affect Americans’ daily life?"

And if the President didn't step in during an emergency, then the conservatives would call him a wimp. Nothing on the internet is private. This isn't taking over the internet everyday, it's doing it in case of an emergency. You supported Bush's right to tap into private telephone conversations, but not the right to tap into a public forum? Oh horrors, a terrorist attack is happening and you won't be able to post on the LJW! What a hoot.

Ralph Reed 5 years, 2 months ago

Jonas, I don't think (know he didn't) Tom read the article before ranting either.


Where were these outcries when President Bush authorized secret warrantless wiretaps of private phone conversations? I also wager that those making the loudest noise know very little about cybersecurity and what it means. Take for example a DNS DDoS attack or a DDoS attack against a particular company, government organization. etc. In the event of a government organization, or a major network being attacked, it must be possible to identify, isolate and elimate the threat. An example of what can happen occured last April (http://news.softpedia.com/news/Denial-of-Service-Attack-Affects-Global-DNS-Service-108434.shtml). "NeuStar's UltraDNS service, used by many important businesses and organizations worldwide, has been the target of a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on Tuesday, making several popular websites hard to reach or completely inaccessible." Imagine the effects on banking, financial services, or power networks. The depiction of the cyber terrorists in the latest Die Hard movie is somewhat over the top, but what was described is doable on a smaller scale. We live in a world largely controlled by computers and information traffic and availability. We have to be able to protect the network that supports the traffic (the internet) and the information / controls on that network.

It strikes me that since ranters want little control, they should also object to the several weather warnings or amber alerts that pop up on every cable channel and radio station. These are a form of governmental control also; please show me the difference.


Tom, re: your 1132. what you describe has been done once already. FDR did it with the CCC and other programs. I'm sure that programs could be re-developed to fulfill your desire.

jonas_opines 5 years, 2 months ago

"Jonas, I don't think (know he didn't) (he) read the article before ranting either."

Well, since the opening line was a direct answer to the headlined question, I'd think (know) that you're right.

Godot 5 years, 2 months ago

My guess is those warrantless Bush wiretaps were instrumental in the arrests this week of those six jihadists planning terror attacks throughout the nation.

No, the government should not be granted the power to shut down the internet. We have already seen the vengeful and extremely partisan actions taken by this admistration regarding the banks, the auto companies, the unions, and "those who lie about health care reform." Team Obama cannot be trusted with that power.

RogueThrill 5 years, 2 months ago

Well, the government made provisions for the internet to exist. The internet was originally a method for all of our cold war defense systems to communicate.

Currently there are information warfare groups in numerous countries which target our information systems on a daily basis; China, Russia, Israel, etc..

Should our government appropriate the internet in times of national emergency? Sure, it is their internet after all.

Should they use it to silence the voices of political dissidents? No.

beatrice 5 years, 2 months ago

Al Gore blew it when he forgot to install an off switch in his orignal plans.

(Just wanted to beat R-I to the punch.)

"So far at least 18 bills have been introduced as Congress works carefully to give federal authorities the power to protect the country in the event of a massive cyberattack."

Does it say anywhere in this article that all 18 of these bills have been introduced during Obama's time in office? I honestly don't know. Just curious if this "kill switch" idea is really that new.

beatrice 5 years, 2 months ago

The headline for this story is misleading. "Control" over the internet, and the ability to shut it down in the case of an emergency or potential dangerous cyber attack are two different things. The headline indicates the type of control one might find by the Chinese government. That isn't what this is about.

Satirical 5 years, 2 months ago

If there is one thing I have learned from Obama is that the government is better at everything. So yes, the government should take over internet, health care, or anything else its wants to, because the government always knows what's best for its citizens.

slowplay 5 years, 2 months ago

What a stupid question. It's like asking if the government should control what we eat. Of course not. But, if some disease is being spread from contaminated food, they have the ability and responsibility to shut down and isolate. Same should apply for the internet.

beatrice 5 years, 2 months ago

Marion, still trying to preserve "White culture"?

I just love, love, love how freaked out you obviously are about the "half-Kenyan" President. It makes me laugh just thinking about how crazy it drives the cracker barrell.

Alexander Neighbors 5 years, 2 months ago

Toe.... They currently just monitor it they don't control it

Stuart Evans 5 years, 2 months ago

It makes me laugh just thinking about how crazy it drives the cracker barrell.


why is this ok to say? "cracker".. it's obviously a term used to instigate hatred. and no, i don't care if you are white and using it. calling other whites cracker is just as ignorant as black people calling each other a name that no other race is allowed to say.

Stuart Evans 5 years, 2 months ago

porch_person (Anonymous) says… TomShewmon, The Bush Administration did listen in on the communications of ordinary Americans. It was called “the NSA warrantless surveillance program”.


and from what I understand, Obama has expanded this practice.

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