It’s being called the Kill Switch Bill. The Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act was approved by a key Senate committee late last week and now moves to the Senate floor for vote.
Here’s where we are; President Obama was given the power to shut down the Internet for at least four months WITHOUT Congressional oversight IF the Senate votes for this bill.
The Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, which is being pushed by Senator Joe Lieberman, would hand absolute power to the federal government to close down networks, and block incoming Internet traffic from certain countries under a declared national emergency.
Despite the Center for Democracy and Technology and 23 other privacy and technology organizations sending letters to Lieberman and other backers of the bill expressing concerns that the legislation could be used to stifle free speech, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee passed in the bill in advance of a vote on the Senate floor.
In response to widespread criticism of the bill, language was added that would force the government to seek congressional approval to extend emergency measures beyond 120 days. Still, this would hand Obama the authority to shut down the Internet on a whim without Congressional oversight or approval for a period of no less than four months.
The Senators pushing the bill rejected the claim that the bill was a ‘kill switch’ for the Internet, not by denying that Obama would be given the authority to shut down the Internet as part of this legislation, but by arguing that he already had the power to do so.
They argued “That the President already had authority under the Communications Act to “cause the closing of any facility or station for wire communication” when there is a “state or threat of war”, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.
Fears that the legislation is aimed at bringing the Internet under the regulatory power of the U.S. government in an offensive against free speech were heightened further on Sunday, when Lieberman revealed that the plan was to mimic China’s policies of policing the web with censorship and coercion.
“Right now China, the government, can disconnect parts of its Internet in case of war and we need to have that here too,” Lieberman told CNN’s Candy Crowley.
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