Attempt to control the Internet

April 13, 2009 at 11:53 pm 5 comments

Remember the cartoon in The New Yorker that states, “On the Internet, no-one knows you are a dog?”

nobodyknowsyoureadogontheinternetWell that may no longer be true if the new legislation that has been tabled in the US Congress, is passed.

It looks as if US legislators are beginning to fall in line with ignorant legislators in other countries who come up with policies that are totally against democratic principles and civil liberties (Yes I know this is not the first time!)

What am I ranting about, you may ask? The Rockefeller-Snowe Bill of course introduced by Senators John Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine). This Bill mirrors similar bills introduced in less democratic ways in South Asia.

The Bill gives President Barack Obama (or any US President) the ability to control the internet. He can apparently declare a cybersecurity emergency thereby shutting down the Internet, or at least limiting Internet traffic on particular networks that he considers critical – in the interest of national security. Of course it would be too much to expect the Bill to define what a cybersecurity emergency is. It seems the definition will be left to the President. Amazing!

Aaaaah but that’s not all. The Bill also grants the Secretary of Commerce “access to all relevant data concerning networks without regard to any provision of law, regulation, rule, or policy restricting such access.” So the Secretary of Commerce can monitor or access any data on a private or public network? Yup. And to hell with privacy laws!

In  a  totally high-tech, technology-savvy world, legislators who do not understand technology are a burden and an impediment to governance, much in the same way that corrupt legislators used to be – or still are. Removing corruption and removing ignorance… wilful ignorance that is … are the same thing.

It is not about democracy or totalitarianism, as much as it is about governance, and governments that are committed to being for the people above all else. One wonders if they tend to forget that, or do they just not care?

The Internet Governance Project examines the Bill in greater detail.

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