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Bill Allows Obama Power to Shut Down Internet

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 149 comments

The President of the United States is said by some to be the most powerful man in the world -- but should he have control of the spread of information.

A legislation proposed on April 1 is no joke. The proposed bill would grant President Obama the authority to shut down public and private networks -- including the restriction of internet traffic -- as part of a cybersecurity emergency plan.

The bill was introduced by West Virginia Democratic Sen. John Rockefeller and Sen. Olympia Snowe, a Republican from Maine. The aim of the bill is to unite both public and private network operators to develop regulations for what to do in case of a cyber attack.

For obvious reasons, many are concerned about what such power could mean if the wrong actions were taken. Leslie Harris, president and CEO at the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), said in a NetworkWorld story, “This is pretty sweeping legislation. Seems the President could turn off the Internet completely or tell someone like Verizon to limit or block certain traffic. There is a lot to worry about in this bill.”

While the public sector may be used to more government regulation and involvement, such control will undoubtedly bother corporations. CDT’s Harris added that regulatory rules could force companies to all conform to a similar system, which could hamper security and innovation. For example, if a critical security flaw was found in a mandated system, then the entire network could be susceptible to such a flaw.

Corporations, particularly internet-centric companies, are keeping close watch on how this will pan out.

“We are currently studying this legislation,” said Dan Martin, a spokesman for Google. “Security has been a priority at Google from the beginning of the company – we recognize that secure products are instrumental in maintaining the trust our users place in us.”

The politicians behind the bill do clarify that this is just the first proposal and that there is still room for much revision and evolution.

“This legislation is the beginning of the process - the objective of this cybersecurity bill is to start the debate and chairman Rockefeller welcomes comments from all parties, he is sitting down with stakeholders already and he welcomes input from all those supportive of the legislation and those with concerns,” said Jena Longo, deputy communications director for the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation.

Check out the bill here (PDF), hosted by NetworkWorld.

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Top Comments
  • 26 Hide
    Anonymous , April 7, 2009 12:42 AM
    so much for the first amendment
  • 25 Hide
    basedv , April 7, 2009 12:54 AM
    This is way to much power for one man to be given. First he's requesting CEO's resign in the auto industry. Granted they should because they have manged the companies poorly. Now we want to grant him power to turn off the Internet correct me if I'm wrong but I think I pay for my Internet access not the President of the United States or other taxpayers. We are starting to move closer to a dictatorship if we continue to allow this to go on!!!!!
  • 25 Hide
    chaosgs , April 7, 2009 12:47 AM
    If i was CEO of Verizon (or any internet provider) and the government told me to shut it down, id have a simple and fast response of "F_uck you, ill run my business the way i want to and it'll be a cold day in hell before i let you screw it up".
Other Comments
    Display all 149 comments.
  • 1 Hide
    badge , April 6, 2009 11:52 PM
    Barrack does not have the rectitude necessary to make important decisions that effect people's lives. Besides that He has poor judgement.
  • 1 Hide
    hercules , April 7, 2009 12:02 AM
    But what exactly would he ever want to close down?
  • 9 Hide
    zibby , April 7, 2009 12:17 AM
    Barrack does not care about Internet users!!!
  • 10 Hide
    Shadow703793 , April 7, 2009 12:25 AM
    herculesBut what exactly would he ever want to close down?

    It's a conspiracy! The RIAA,etc are paying him to do it! :lol: 
  • 10 Hide
    zibby , April 7, 2009 12:26 AM
    Communism (Marxism Leninism Obamanism) is coming.
  • 8 Hide
    jhansonxi , April 7, 2009 12:27 AM
    That's the kind of power that only the RIAA, MPAA, or BSA should have. :p 
  • 10 Hide
    thepinkpanther , April 7, 2009 12:40 AM
    congress doesnt even use the internet, unless making their minions send hateful mail. They dont know how the "internets" affect people lives.
  • 26 Hide
    Anonymous , April 7, 2009 12:42 AM
    so much for the first amendment
  • 20 Hide
    thepinkpanther , April 7, 2009 12:44 AM
    i wonder how many WoW users would b outraged if this should actually happen
  • 17 Hide
    greenskye , April 7, 2009 12:45 AM
    And here comes communism in the guise of national security. Security from whom? Perhaps from Americans?
  • 25 Hide
    chaosgs , April 7, 2009 12:47 AM
    If i was CEO of Verizon (or any internet provider) and the government told me to shut it down, id have a simple and fast response of "F_uck you, ill run my business the way i want to and it'll be a cold day in hell before i let you screw it up".
  • 25 Hide
    basedv , April 7, 2009 12:54 AM
    This is way to much power for one man to be given. First he's requesting CEO's resign in the auto industry. Granted they should because they have manged the companies poorly. Now we want to grant him power to turn off the Internet correct me if I'm wrong but I think I pay for my Internet access not the President of the United States or other taxpayers. We are starting to move closer to a dictatorship if we continue to allow this to go on!!!!!
  • 24 Hide
    scook9 , April 7, 2009 12:57 AM
    Our economy would crumble if the internet is turned off. First off, stock trading is done 99.99% online now, even from brokers, so there went that.....nevermind the massive amount of revenue that moves around at online sites (newegg alone does over 1 billion dollars a year). And of course, this is ignoring the flagrant disregard for the first ammendment. If people dont want to get attacked online, unplug your computer from the internet, it is NOT required for computer operation, it is voluntary. We dont need the government to wipe your ass either do we?
  • 12 Hide
    red_star_77 , April 7, 2009 1:06 AM
    There is no single point where you could shut down Internet
  • 8 Hide
    matt87_50 , April 7, 2009 1:18 AM
    guess someone may actually beat the internet. and the last guy will be the US political system? i always thought it would be something cool. like a dragon or something...
  • 9 Hide
    kenyee , April 7, 2009 1:25 AM
    megamanx00I'll just put it this way. If a bill like this had been passed under Bill Clinton and then Bush used it when he got into power would you regret it?


    LOL. The irony is that Hillary was the first to say "can't we ban the Internet news?" when Clinton's affair and sperm stain spread like wildfire before the printed/TV media could do anything about it ;-)
  • 1 Hide
    rdawise , April 7, 2009 1:32 AM
    Hmmm....

    basedvThis is way to much power for one man to be given.


    ...You do realize this man makes the call to go to war with another country right? Seems a little bit more power than "shutting down the internet".

    Guys, what in the world are you getting huffed up about. No where does it say "President Obama is planning to shut down the internet". Communism, dictatorship, can we say "holy over-reaction Batman"! This is a security move and nothing more for the moment. To technically "shut down" the 'net would require a lot more resources that the US has (given that is called the internet, not the USnet). The talks seem to stem from the Conficker paranoia. Their mode of think is that virus are becoming more, for lack of a better word, refined. Really think that any American business would allow the 'net to go down. Imagine if you could no longer buy anything online. In comes recession number 2. Imagine if the retailers could no longer advertise online. You think the auto industry in Detroit was fragile, wait to you can't buy anything from California online....

    I just love how people are attacking Obama and HE DIDN'T EVEN COME UP WITH THE FREAKING BILL! It was just that a bill from the Senate. Not even voted on yet. A proposal...yet Obama is the boogeyman who is going to take your precious toys...oh my. The guy has been in office 3 MONTHS and yet, let some people tell it, you'd think he's been in office the last 8 years (who was the guy by the way?). Got love opinions though....
  • 6 Hide
    randomizer , April 7, 2009 1:40 AM
    red_star_77There is no single point where you could shut down Internet

    No but there are a few key ones. Cut the international pipes and only national traffic stays up. Force the ISPs to shut down their systems and your whole country is screwed. An easier option is to simply disable all DNS, although that won't stop everyone, just most people.

    Makes me glad to be in Australia where we will only get the Internet filtered :lol: 
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