Proposed internet "kill switch" raises concerns

The USHomeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee headed by Sen. Joe Lieberman unanimously approved the "Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act of 2010" on June 28, moving the bill to the Senate for a full vote.

According to the Heartland Institute:

The one aspect of the bill eliciting the most concern is the so-called "kill switch," which is how opponents describe the emergency authority given the president over the Internet in the event vulnerabilities are exploited.

If enacted, the legislation would grant the president power to seize control of Internet assets in the US, similar to the control China exerts over the Internet within its borders.

"Right now, China, the government, can disconnect parts of its Internet in a case of war. We need to have that here, too," says Sen. Lieberman.

While fear mongering may help Lieberman convince the public that it needs saving from the Internet, the only danger lurking in cyberspace is an authoritarian information monopoly, says Heartland.

Washington's most effective power grabs are always sold as needed security, but, predictably, they quickly manifest into little more than relinquished civil liberties, says Eric Garris, founder of

"We're not China; we have freedom here," says Garris. "After 9-11, the Internet was essential to keep people from panicking. If the Internet had been shut down, there would have been more rumours and paranoia. There would be no facts getting to the people outside of what they could get on television. And there's no guarantee that television wouldn't be shut down as well."

Source: Phil Britt, Proposed Internet 'Kill Switch' Raises Concerns, Heartland Institute, June 30, 2010.

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First published by the National Center for Policy Analysis, United States

FMF Policy Bulletin/ 13 July 2010


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