Sunday, June 20, 2010

Is Obama getting Web 'kill switch'?

Okay, now I am starting to get freaked out. It is getting difficult keeping all of these cyber-security agencies straight. Some are part of the Dept. of Defense, and some are part of Homeland Security within the National Security Agency (NSA). While I was reading this column, I noticed that the story's author, Michael Carl, didn't provide very many links. I surfed around in, and added a few of the links myself where appropriate. This way, you can do some of your own surfing as you read this, and hopefully eliminate some confusion as to what is going on here.

I need to reiterate what I had written earlier this morning when posting Joseph Farah's column, "Should president have Net 'kill switch'?":

I have to agree with Joseph that it is doubtful that there would be any national security scenario that would provide a good "excuse" to hit the "kill switch." I guess Senator Joe Lieberman must not be aware of US-CERT (United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team) under Dept. of Homeland Security. I think they have the cyber-security threats under control, and there would be absolutely NO reason for anyone to need to hit the "Kill Switch" button. Well, not unless.... ummm... they wanted to cut off all communication so that people wouldn't be able to find out what is going on in a "national emergency." In other words, as Joseph talks about, it's a 1st Amendment issue ONLY.
And now, I'm not honestly so sure that the concern for the 1st Amendment is truly an issue. Under key elements of the legislation (See #5) in one of the articles I read, it says the following:
Creation of a responsible framework, developed in coordination with the private sector, for the President to authorize emergency measures to protect the nation’s most critical infrastructure if a cyber vulnerability is being exploited or is about to be exploited. The President must notify Congress in advance before exercising these emergency powers. Any emergency measures imposed must be the least disruptive necessary to respond to the threat and will expire after 30 days unless the President extends them. The bill authorizes no new surveillance authorities and does not authorize the government to ‘take over’ private networks.
The "kill switch" - emergency measures, in other words - is apparently supposed to be limited in order to minimize disruption to the Net. So, maybe the uproar about this legislation being a threat to the 1st Amendment isn't completely warranted. However, the amount of money to pay for cyber-security and the additional growth of the government (Big Brother) is greatly concerning. And I must admit, there is always the possibility that at some point of time, all of these new cyber-security agencies could become a threat to our freedom at some point in time. Just sayin'...

The newly operational status of the Cyber Command also is driving concern about the federal government's interest in taking control of the Internet. CNET News reported last August concern over a federal takeover of the Internet was fueled by the introduction of a Senate bill that would give President Obama the authority to take command of the system – or prevent private computers from having access.

The fury over possible federal control of the Internet has not abated, according to a report by Federal News Radio's Tom Temin and Amy Morris.

Temin and Morris say the bill proposed by Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, Maine Sen. Susan Collins and Delaware Sen. Tom Carper would give the president authority to shut down the Internet in the event of a cyber attack. The shutdown actions would be done through the Department of Homeland Security.
Plan cites security to ramp up government control over Internet

Posted: June 17, 2010 ~ 8:37 pm Eastern

By Michael Carl

© 2010 WorldNetDaily

Congress is proposing a tighter grip by the government on the Internet, with a new "Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act of 2010" that would, among other things, give the president a "kill switch" on the Web, critics charge.

Officials with Judicial Watch, a government-watchdog group that investigates and prosecutes government misbehavior, said the plan simply is "keeping with the big-government script" of the Obama administration.

The organization said the bill would grant the federal government "absolute power" to shut down Internet activity and allow the president to take it over in the name of "national security."

The proposal essentially would require broadband providers, search engines and software firms to "immediately comply with any emergency measure or action developed" within the Department of Homeland Security.

Punishment would await offenders.

Judicial Watch said the alarming plan would give the government the power to force private companies to participate in "information sharing" with the government and allow authorities to monitor the "security status" of private websites and others.

"Yet another new government agency (National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications) will be created to police the industry and any company that 'relies on' the Internet, the telephone system or any other component of the 'information infrastructure' will be subject to its command," the organization said.

"The new (National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications) will have no less than two deputy directors and liaison officers to the Defense, Justice and Commerce departments as well as the director of national intelligence."

Judicial Watch also said arming the president with an Internet "kill switch" easily could be misused to silence free speech "under the pretext of a national emergency." (emphasis added by me)

There already is an organization set up to manage such situations and it includes personnel from the National Security Agency, Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and policymakers (politicians), according to a report from WND columnist Andrea Shea King.

The administration agency, dubbed CYBERCOM, is set up within the Department of Defense and reports it is both a defense and an offense in that it can engage in preemptive "strikes" intended to disrupt threats, she reported.

At a site called "Tech 1984 - Where Technology and Big Brother Collide," a commentator suggested: "Even though the primary purpose of CYBERCOM is to protect government and military networks, there is incredible pressure to extend that 'protection' to civilian and business networks as well. In fact, the second-highest official at the Pentagon, William Lynn III, deputy secretary of defense, recently announced that the Department of Defense might start a protective program for civilian networks. Defense Secretary Robert Gates stated the same thing in June 2009."

The new legislative proposal comes at the same time the Federal Communications Commission still is attempting to act on a policy called "net neutrality." CNET Networks reported in April that a federal court ruled that the FCC could not act on net neutrality, but the court decision hasn't stopped the push for that agenda as the FCC is still attempting to regulate the Internet using federal rules used to control phone lines.

A government systems analyst who publishes the Tech 1984 site and prefers to use the pseudonym Winston, a name borrowed from Winston Smith from George Orwell's "1984," said the newly activated Cyber Command was proposed last year by Defense Secretary William Gates as a means to protect the military's vast Internet network from attacks by outside or hostile forces.

"Winston" is a confidential source with connections to the cybersecurity industry.

Director Maj. Gen. Steven Smith said in a statement posted on the Army's site that the new agency will be responsible for defending Army information networks from threats around the globe.

"The mission for (the Cyber Command) is to direct the operation and defense of all Army networks, and, on order, conduct full-spectrum operations in support of our combatant commanders and coalition partners," Smith said.

Smith said the new unit will use existing Army and Defense resources and bring together parts of the 9th Signal Command, the First Information Operations Command and the Intelligence and Security Command.

However, Winston, the analyst, believes the new move will be aimed at civilian computer networks. Winston bases his assessment on a recent statement made by Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn.

"The best-laid defenses on military networks will matter little unless our civilian critical infrastructure is also protected. Critical infrastructure will certainly be targeted in a military conflict," Lynn stated.

"The Department of Homeland Security appropriately has the lead to protect the dot-gov and dot-mil domains. The Defense Department plays an important supporting role in this mission, and has direct responsibility for securing defense-industry networks," Lynn added.


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