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Silencing the Internet

A new bill has been making its way through the United States Senate and it is controversial … a true tinderbox issue. It is so “hot,” in fact, that it is causing consternation and anger on both sides of the political aisle. And it’s no wonder …

disconnected

The bill in question, when and if passed, will give President Obama, and all future presidents, as well, the power to shut down the Internet for up to four months, perhaps even longer. Known as the “kill switch,” the bill was recently approved by a key Senate committee and is ready to move to the floor of the Senate where all members will have an opportunity to vote on it … to cast a “yea” or “nay” vote.

It’s called “The Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act” … and it has been inflaming passions since it first saw the light of day and made its way into committee. Senator Joe Lieberman, (I) Connecticut, has been a powerful advocate of the bill which, if it becomes law, will provide the head of the federal government (the President) with absolute power to shut down the Internet and block incoming Internet traffic from specific countries during “national emergencies.”

Clearly, such power in the hands of a single individual (even an American president), can be dangerous and lead to tyranny and/or abuse.  It’s not difficult to imagine how this power, used improperly, could create serious free speech problems in America.

In fact, the Center for Democracy and Technology, acting in concert with 23 other privacy and technology organizations, has written letters to Senator Lieberman and other supporters of the bill to express their concern that the legislation can be an instrument that stifles free speech in America.

The widespread criticism of the bill has had some impact. Its sponsors have added language that would require the federal government to obtain congressional approval in order to extend the shutting down of the Internet beyond 120 days (four months), but, of course, it does nothing to address the initial 120 days.

This means that if no further changes are added to the bill, President Obama will have the power and authority to stop all Internet activity – on a whim or for purely political reasons – without congressional oversight or approval for up to four months.

Senators who are behind this bill rejected opposition claims that it was a “kill switch” that could turn the Internet “dark” although they did not deny that President Obama would have the authority to do just that if the legislation becomes law. These senators made the claim that the power to shut down the Internet already exists under the “Communications Act” so their bill essentially only reinforces an existing presidential power.  This begs the question; if the “Communications Act” already authorizes it, why the need for more legislation?

Is their argument correct? It’s possible. Let’s just say it’s open to personal interpretation. The “Communications Act” actually provides the president with the authority to “cause the closing of any facility or station for wire communication when there is a state or threat of war.”

As I said, the power to shut down the Internet, based on the law I just described, is open to interpretation. The language is broad and leaves itself open to differing opinions as to its true meaning.

Opponents clearly believe that the legislation’s aim is to bring the Internet under the regulatory power of the U.S. government so that it can begin to dismantle free speech. It’s a frightening thought, but it may have some merit. Here’s why …

Senator Lieberman has stated that the idea behind the impending new law was to copy (or mimic) China’s stringent policies of policing and controlling the free flow of information through the use of censorship and coercion. That a U.S. senator would feel comfortable stating publicly that we should copy China, a nation with a notorious track record for civil liberties, is troubling.

Currently, the Chinese government has the power to disconnect parts of the Internet in times of war. The senator from Connecticut wants the American government to have that same power.

While public attention has been focused on the tragic Gulf coast oil spill and other serious problems, Democrats in Congress have been working quietly to lay the groundwork for this bill which will become, in effect, a technological iron curtain that turns over complete control of the Internet to the federal government.

This can open the door to potential governmental tyranny, something one would never have imagined could ever occur in America. But consider the facts. Many suspect that the real agenda driving this bill rests in an unshakeable determination to strangle this rapidly-growing alternative to traditional media because it is not part of the establishment, will not “play ball” with politicians … and will instead expose government misdeeds, cover-ups and cronyism.

In truth, this bill, if passed, can be used by those in power to literally silence anyone who is critical of government or individuals in government. That makes it a potentially very dangerous weapon … a threat to the freedom that Americans have always enjoyed.

The pros and cons of this bill need to be debated openly and honestly — in full view of the American electorate.

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32 comments

  1. yeah so if there is a national disaster in a certain part of the country-no one has to know about it. If governement or foreign goverment wants to overthrow a certain region, or set up shop or even conduct experiments-no one knows…..also what about all of our money that is “out there in the system tied up…” good way to lose track of it if the system is down. More importantly, as we get near election time, it gives a perfect way for results to be thwarted- how could we as a country be so blind. Since day one there have been signs, that God has given us, and foolishly we conjure up excuses and reasons to cover his *ss and now look where we have really brought ourselves. This is the beginning of hard times my friend, like we have never seen it before. We are going to be brought to our knees and forced to stay there. Get yourself right with the Lord, get your finances in order, men-get your houses in order, draw your family nigh. The country is divided, and will start crumbling-you need to keep your families from dividing. Keep strong your family’s train of thought, found it in God’s Word. Everyone will be tested and some will not make it. This isn’t just going to be a crumbling-its going to be a takeover. Prepare yourselves-NOW.

    • Your right Sevenstars,this attempted takeover of the internet is to keep the public ignorant to anything that can harm this country..The internet is the biggest threat to a government that’s out of control,because people like us can organized and plan for future disasters,invasions,Marshall law and any opposition to the uncontrol government leadership that wants to see a collapse so their new world order can seize control..The current adminstration running Washington wants to destroy our economy,our constitution,our freedoms of speech and religion..They cater to the black radicals,muslims,illegals that are flooding this country by the millions every year,they drain our jobs ,and social services to the brink..Our government does not want to control our borders because big business and the government is making untold billions off their labor and their taxes all the while sticking their care on the backs of the working middle class..I suggest like sevenstars said get your life right with God,let Jesus come into your life ask him to foregive you of your sins and prepare for hard times ahead..Money in large amounts in the banks will be gone if their is a EMP attack,solar flare,or government collapse of our economy..The FDIC is broke..If a run on the banks ever happens they will shut the doors of the banks because they won’t have enough money to pay everyone off..Its happened before it will happen again and within 2-5 years..Silver and cash on hand will help you if it hits..13Trillion in debt, I can’t spend my way out of debt and neither can this uncontrollable government without drastic cutting of spending..Move to the country ,get out of debt ‘if possible”,learn to raise a garden,fish ,hunt,or stand in Obummers soup lines that might be comming..God Bless..

      • Sevenstars77,google ”The Cloward and Piven Plan” and see how Obummer is following this plan to the tee..Obummer went to Columbia University when he started reading this plan from these two people on how to overthrow capitolism and install Socialism-Communism in this country..Cloward and Piven went to Columbia U

  2. When will they be voting on shutting down our Constitution? Maybe during the lameduck session.

  3. So why do you think some hacker from England admits to obtaining a database of appx. 90,000 reports concerning the current military action in Afghanistan.

    “The Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act” has to have proof it’s needed, doesn’t it.= reasoning why Current Bill S.3480 will in all likely will receive the necessary votes for passage.

    “Analogies have been made to the same type of authority and response mechanisms that are currently associated with FEMA. FEMA and its record with current disaster response is the exact reason why people are afraid of forming an agency or body to deal with a cyber attack: it will be constructed upon bureaucratic models that have failed to operate effectively in the past.”Christina Gagnier.IP Lawyer at Gagnier Margossian.Gov 2.0. Privacy.Posted: June 26, 2010 06:16 PM

    • @dmallred Hi just to let you know a bit more on the first part of your comment,nobody hacked anything and it had nothing to do with the English.It was an American soldier they suspect a young private leaked the documents to Wikileaks.org which is a euro company but not English off hand I believe they are from Finland or iceland but they operate globally if you haven’t been to wikileaks you should go and read their about us page.Also governments have hundreds of antihackers and powerful programs protecting national infrastructure so they don’t have to turn off the internet ever.Protect freedom of speech you are lucky to have it and many people bled and died to give you it.

  4. This isn’t just the information highway, it is the financial highway. If this should get passed does that mean that for up to 4 months that I won’t have access to my bank accounts and won’t be able to pay my bills. I do everything on line. How do we stop this?

    • Liquidate your assets and pay your bills with money orders ..Keep cash on hand not in some bank drawing 1% on CD’S and giving some fat banker your money where he can make 10% on it..You’ll need a checking account just don’t write checks..Use a Bank with local free ATM’S so there’s no charge..Have your bills charged on your credit card..If the power goes out you can’t pay bills anyway,but if you had your cash you could at least buy farm raised food from local farmers or Barter with purchased Silver..Safty Deposit Boxes are not safe because when power is gone the doors don’t open and gas doesn’t pump…There is also the possibility the Government could confiscate Safty Deposits and Checking,and CD’S in the Future to pay This democratic nightmare of a 1 +..They confiscated Gold 3 times in US History..

      • Above correction..This Democratic nightmare of a 13 + Trillion Dollar Debt..Folks the FDIC insurance is BROKE,it the economy ever callapse’s ,which I think it will in 2- 5 years you can kiss your money in the banks by by..Because a run on the banks will deplete them in a matter of hours..

  5. I have a question about this bill – How will it be enforced? The government doesn’t own all the servers that are hosting the internet services. Do they even know where all the servers are? What are they going to do? Pull the power cord to those buildings? Will they throw the server operators in jail if they refuse to comply? Yeah, they might pass this bill. But how will it actually be enforced?

  6. They would most likely contact the major ISPs and have them disconnect service. Take the “Great Firewall of China” for example. There, the internet provider is either THE government or owned by the government. Most of internet traffic in China goes through a single logical node, which enables the country’s government to control the information that passes through. This is quite similar to a “content filter” that parents may put on to block content from their children, only on a national scale.

    The bill in question is actually a good thing however. It is not to stop the spread of information, but rather defend sensitive materials from other countries.

    • that does make sense. I keep getting these offers from charter that insist I lock in for a special 2year price. The offer is so desparate becuase it appears each time I log in to my charter e-mail and on every bill as an ad, that it makes me wonder if they have been notified that in 2years internet will be through the government or something….

  7. Should we all be getting ham radios up and running?

  8. This is a bill and a vote to be watched. In short, a good way to cull out congress. I’d say a yea vote for the bill should be as good as a no vote come election time!

    • yeah it needs to be watched but they will probably sneak it in with something else or link it to some issue the uninformed masses will unknowingly agree with. We need to put a voice on it and get it out in the media and on the street-what it really is and what it really can do.

      • It will be more disguised than any other bills, and the power to do just this is already there with the new “internet czar” which is already in place

  9. Draper: You truly are a trusting soul, which tells me you are a person with a good heart. But Draper, history is the story of failed governments, governments that became so oppressive they were finally overthrown by the people; which, in time, became so oppressive they, too, were over thrown. The U.S. is in the beginning stages of tyranny, the shifting of all power and authority to Washington. If the internet is controlled by government (like China) the free flow of ideas, free speech, will be a thing of the past in the U.S. If you recognize that, you must conclude that the Constitution is dead and as Lord Acton once said prophetically, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute corrupts absolutely.”

  10. Draper,

    The sensitive information you speak of is not even on the public internet grid that we use. It is on a completely seperate system thus there is no need to shut down all internet to protect that information.

    This could be a very dangerous tool in the hands of the wrong person. More and more we are losing rights under the guise of “homeland security”. This is simply another means of control. They tell you its for our countries security? Think again. A lot of information is uncovered and spread on the internet. If this bill is passed it could mean the end of our freedom of speech.

    • Then there is the water issue. The congress recently took over all water in the U.S. They can shut down your well, and even your city water at will. The internet would be used to give us propaganda that they want us to hear and shut down all the sites like this where you may actually hear the truth

  11. And lets not for get the people that use the internet for phone service.
    What a screw up to mess with the internet.
    They want us not to be able to question their vote, there answers or there personal lives.
    Washington is an evil place where even eviler people live and spit out out new laws and we in the circus have to obey for ever or until we stand up and say no.
    So, do the no”s have it??
    The internet is the freedom high way, they want our freedom NOW!!

  12. dontfencemein1979

    Also think of all those that order prescription meds from Canada, that would put them in the way of physical harm and would be forced to government driven dispensaries and or medical facillities. There is also concern for those that not only email and check news, but make their income with businesses, home extention offices. The range of impact something like this could have is staggering. Our country would be thrown back in time. I see a catch 22 excuse for the government to take something like this beyond the “4 month” time limit. Tell the people there is a “threat to national security” and shut it down, propagating unrest and chaos which would further the time span, wishing not to convey the ideas of rebellion and “fear mongering” about the government. YIPES!

  13. Andrew,
    I posted in another forum about the “The Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act” and here is the reply I received..

    “This bill is a piggy-back onto S773 introduced last year with bi-partisan support from co-sponsors Rockefeller and Olympia Snowe. That bill (S773) was DOA. This bill was read 2x in the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on June 10 and no movement since.

    From OpenCongress:

    http://www.opencongress.org/articles/view/1917-Lieberman-Cybersecurity-Bill-Would-Give-DHS-Broad-Emergency-Powers-Over-the-Internet

    So Andrew, what are the facts about this bill? What is the bill number?
    Is that poster correct is stating that this bill is dead and not really a live bill in Senate right now?

    I will keep watching here today to get your answer.

    One thing I wish writers would do is to always put the bill number, not just the bill name.

    Thank you

    Dachise in Austin, Texas

  14. IDIOTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We are being govern’d by huge FCKING IDIOTS. GOD help the PPL or we are screwed!!!!!!!!

  15. Speaking of FREE SPEECH. I was watching GRIT-TV last night and Laura Flanders had a guest speaker Jay Rosen with pressthink.org. He claimed even if the government tried to shut down Wikileaks that it would be almost impossible as Wikileaks has many other sources to gain access to their network.

    I wrote to our PA Senator Casey about this bill some 2 months ago and never received a reply:

    Dear Senator Casey:

    National Security. Protecting Security as a National Asset Act.

    The bill would grant President Obama the power to declare a “national cyber-emergency” at his discretion and force private companies tied to the Web, including Internet service providers and search engines, to take action in response—moves that could include limiting or even cutting off their connections to the World Wide Web for up to 30 days. While the bill’s sponsors say it is intended to create a shield to defend the United States and its largest companies from the growing threat of cyberattacks, civil-liberties activists tell The Daily Beast they fear the bill could give the White House the ability to effectively shut down portions of the Internet for reasons that could prove to be politically insp

    I learned of this on the Thom Harmann program this morning ( June 19). I sincerely hope you did not vote for this one.

    Next the US Government will try to eliminate Free Speech TV and the internet for websites like Wikileaks.

    It would seem that our government is fearful of Julian Assange after his Wikileaks website exposed Collateral Murder, Wikileaks Iraq. I watched this video in horror but I also believe that this type of military injustice happens all the time.

    Now Assange is set to release another video exposing the 140 CIVILIANS killed by US troops, 95 of them children in Afghanistan. What will the Pentagon think of this one.

    I felt that when George Bush initiated the war in Iraq back in 2003, this was a major mistake. Now we are in Afghanistan which I believe is the longest war ever, even longer than Viet Nam.

    To bad we have to spend so much money every year for national security. I believe we could blow up every country in the world some eight times over.

    Come November or vote will be very important. I believe that the Republicans are way out of line, but I also wish more Independents would also be running for congress.

    Sincerely,

    Steve Zimmett
    Email: [email protected]

  16. By the way you can use ham radios via the computer to communicate with others and until something like shutting the internet down you almost do what your doing now, however it is some what different.

  17. JAndrews, I have to disagree with you. We are being governed by brilliant men and women. They didn’t get into a position of leadership by being “dumb”. Brilliant, capable of winning the people’s trust even admiration, but like egocentric children, must have their way. But I ask you to take a hard look at where the “intelligencia” have taken us – have always taken the people! of every nation! You don’t have to be “smart” to know right from wrong, or to recognize bullies. Socialist’s disguise themselves as emancipators, as “do-gooders”, freeing the proletariat from slavery. Hitler’s power and authority was elevated by the rich, the powerful industrialists, and the promise “of a better life”. Good German people were sucked in to the promise. I’m sure you believe that we Amerikans are smarter than those dumb krauts; that it can’t happen here! Avowed Socialists (read Rockefeller, the CFR, Trilateralist, Bilderberger, Club of Rome,etc.) will sacrifice anybody, promise anything (more help from government, THE LAW!) to establish their utopian plans. Bastiat said in 1850,”But it is upon the law that socialism relies. And once the law is on the side of socialism, how can it be used against socialism?” And you might consider these words from Frederick Douglas, “The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.” I’m eighty years old. My wife and I can’t run off to some isolated spot where we just think the thought police won’t find us. I think we all have TO STAND, say NO MORE! and remove the tyrants from office, every one!

  18. SEVENSTARS77 – you are right and even if these executive orders didn’t exist, the fact is that citizens are only as free as its government allows them to be. This is true in any country, including the good ole USA. Basically, our federal government can do anything when using the “in the interest of national security” BS, from taking your property to taking your liberty to taking your life. Anyone that fails to see and understand that is delusional.

  19. I live north of the the 49th and that sounds scarry.It’s just a matter of time before it comes here.I hope it done not pass.

  20. Hello, I am leaving this message in regards to my previous above message, I did not many to offend anyone with the language or profanity that i used, and am sorry that I did not take the time to look and see exactly what type of comments can or should be typed on this page.

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