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Senators introduce bill that would allow US to disconnect the Internet

By John Byrne
Friday, June 18, 2010 8:02 EDT
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Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), along with one Republican and Democratic senator, introduced a bill late last week that would allow the President to effectively disconnect the internet by emergency decree.

The Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act would allow the President to disconnect Internet networks and force private websites to comply with broad cybersecurity measures.

Future US presidents would have their Internet “kill switch” powers renewed indefinitely.

The bill was introduced by Lieberman, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE). A parallel bill was drafted last year by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) which would allow the federal government to unilaterally “order the disconnection” of certain websites.

“For all of its ‘user-friendly’ allure, the Internet can also be a dangerous place with electronic pipelines that run directly into everything from our personal bank accounts to key infrastructure to government and industrial secrets,” Lieberman said in a release announcing his bill. “Our economic security, national security and public safety are now all at risk from new kinds of enemies — cyber-warriors, cyber-spies, cyber-terrorists and cyber-criminals.

“The need for this legislation is obvious and urgent,” the Connecticut senator added.

“We cannot afford to wait for a cyber 9/11 before our government realises the importance of protecting our cyber resources,” Sen. Collins said.

One news site notes:

The bill would give a newly-formed National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications the authority to monitor the “security status” of private websites, ISPs and other net-related business within the U.S. as well as critical internet components in other countries. Companies would be required to take part in “information sharing” with the government and certify to the NCCC that they have implemented approved security measures. Furthermore, any company that “relies on” the internet, telephone system or any other part of the U.S. “information infrastructure” would also be “subject to command” by the NCCC under the proposed new law.

Lieberman’s bill would also create a cadre of cybersecurity agencies and order strategy planning with private firms. The legislation is supported by anti-virus giant Symantec.

“The Internet may have started out as a communications oddity some 40 years ago but it is now a necessity of modern life, and sadly one that is under constant attack,” Lieberman added in his release. “It must be secured… The Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act of 2010 is designed to bring together the disjointed efforts of multiple federal agencies and departments to prevent cyber theft, intrusions, and attacks across the federal government and the private sector. The bill would establish a clear organizational structure to lead federal efforts in safeguarding cyber networks. And it would build a public/private partnership to increase the preparedness and resiliency of those private critical infrastructure cyber networks upon which our way of life depends.”

 
 
 
 
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