The Internet Kill Switch Bill – Dubious Wordsmithing Designed to Choke Freedom

In the name of defense and safety, the left just has to manage, regulate, and choke anything they can get their power-hungry fingers on.  Now it’s the internet.  Actually, it’s internet access.  Remember that distinction as you read this post. 

Senators Joe Lieberman (I-WI), Susan Collins, (R-ME) and Tom Carper (D-DE) have concocted the new internet “Kill Switch” bill.  It was originally introduced in 2010 under the name “The Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset” bill which granted the President broad and ambiguous powers to declare a “cyber emergency” and subsequently shut down American internet service providers. 

THAT kind of online freedom choke didn’t fly so well in the court of public opinion, so last week its creators craftily renamed the bill the “Cybersecurity and Internet Freedom Act of 2011,” or “Internet Fredom Act” for short.  

The Declared Motive

The declared motive behind the bill is to defend the United States against a cyberterrorist attack on our economic infrastructure.  The bill loosely defines a “national cyber emergency” as:

“… an actual or imminent action by any individual or entity to exploit a cyber risk in a manner that disrupts, attempts to disrupt, or poses a significant risk of disruption to the opreation of the information infrastructure essential to the reliable operation of covered critical infrastructure.” 

The 2010 version of the bill caused such a free speech uproar amongst the masses, it angered the likes of the American Civil Liberty Union on the left all the way to the tea party types on the right.  To appease the masses, the bill’s creators rewrote it and renamed it the “Internet Freedom Act of 2011.” 

Considering the new name, ask yourself:  Isn’t the internet already free?  “Free” as in free-flowing and unblocked?  If so, why in the world do we need a dubiously named “Internet Freedom Act?” 

Crafty Wordsmithing

Within the 2011 bill, here’s where the new and improved wordsmithing, designed to build trust that our government won’t “shut down the internet.”  From the bill: 

“… neither the President, the Director of the National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications, or any officer or employee of the United States Government shall have the authority to shut down the internet.”

But guess what?  Nobody has the literal ability to shut down the internet! (Read this article titled “Who Owns the Internet” by HowStuffWorks explaining internet “ownership.”)  So the “reassuring” verbiage used here is designed to give false comfort that the government won’t shut down the internet.  Fact is, they won’t have the authority to shut down the internet because they CAN’T shut down the internet.

So they can’t shut down the internet, but they can regulate, direct, and shut down communications on and access to the internet.   Read deeper into the bill and see that the goverment shall be given authority to “direct” internet service providers.  

The Reality of the Bill

 The bill would create yet two more bureaucracies:  the Office of Cyberspace Policy and the National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications.  No doubt each would be bursting with yet more unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats and agents ready to control the flow of information on the internet. 

To appease the concerns about Presidential power, the new “Internet Freedom” bill was modified to “remove” direct Presidential powers over the “kill switch.”  But don’t let the name change and purported removal of direct Presidential access to a kill switch fool you.  The President still maintains broad, ambigiuous power to declare a national cyber emergency:

“The President may issue a declaration of a national cyber emergency to covered critical infrastructure if there is an ongoing or imminent action by any individual or entity to exploit a cyber risk in a manner that disrupts, attempts to disrupt, or poses a significant risk of disruption to the operation of the information infrastructure essential to the reliable operation of covered critical insfrastructure.”

“Upon issuing a declaration… the President shall… notify the owners and operators of the specified critial infrastructure and any other relevant private sector entity of the ature of the national cyber emergency.” 

And then:

“If the President issues a declaration… the Director shall immediately direct the owners and operators of covered critical infrastructure … to implement response plans.”

So essentially, even if the President isn’t the one whose finger is on the kill switch, he has the power to enforce the Director to push the kill switch.  It’s all just liberal wordsmithing and semantics, the actual kill switch power remains in place. (For clarification, note that there is no actual “switch.”  The switch referred to here is the regulatory power of an established bureaucracy over internet service providers.)

The Feel-Good Rhetoric

Ahh, but the crafters of the bill are excited to share the new, improved “Internet Freedom Act,” since it shuts down all concerns about Presidential powers.  According to Lieberman at the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, the new bill would: 

“… significantly improve the security of all Americans by creating a new national center to prevent and respond to cyber attacks, requiring critical infrastructure owners – for the first time – to shore up cyber vulnerabilities, and establishing a strategy to secure the federal IT supply chain.”

Michelle’s Thoughts

The internet is already “free.”  Rewriting a bill that contains the very same regulatory and controlling legislation with new, improved, and misleading verbiage is a deceptive power grab over free speech.  Shame on the lawmakers who shammed this freedom-choking bill into the “Internet Freedom Act” so they can quiet the resistance against their grab for power. 

Shutting down internet access puts America in a position of both international and internal weakness and vulnerability, since free commerce and information flow will be stopped – by our own leaders.  This leaves America wide open and vulnerable to other external attacks, while at the same time putting America on her economic head. 

If the US Government really wants to protect American economic infrastructure and operation, what needs to be considered is a “data missile defense” type of data system that uses a live and free-flowing internet, similar to the vision crafted by Ronald Reagan with his Strategic Defense Initiative, smart data systems being our “missiles.” 

Data and programming possibilites are endless, and we live in the greatest nation with the greatest pool of intellect from which we can devise such systems.  Anything is possible if government gets its power-grabbing hands out of it and informs (not directs or regulates) the private data development sector of known threats.  Shutting down access and communications will surely cripple the greatest nation on earth. 

Don’t be deceived:  the Internet Freedom Act is ultimately an attempt to proactively control communications and coordination in the event Americans ever attempt a revolt.  Remember Egypt.

Michelle Morin is Mom4Freedom, a conservative blogger, speaker, and patriot for freedom and America’s founding principles. Join her for more current events commentary, opinion, and freedom updates here.  

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