Lieberman Defends Internet Martial Law Plan To Control Public Information

Thursday, June 17, 2010
By Paul Martin

Lieberman defends emergency Net authority plan

by Declan McCullagh

Sen. Joseph Lieberman on Tuesday defended his proposal to grant the president far-reaching emergency powers to seize control of or shut down portions of the Internet.

It’s vital that the president can “say to an electric company or to say to Verizon, in the national interest, ‘There’s an attack about to come, and I hereby order you to put a patch on this, or put your network down on this part, or stop accepting any incoming from country A,'” said Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut who caucuses with Democrats.

Lieberman’s bill, introduced last week, could force companies such as broadband providers, search engines, and software firms that the government selects to “immediately comply with any emergency measure or action” decreed by the Department of Homeland Security.

Because there are virtually no limits on the president’s emergency power, which can be renewed indefinitely, the densely worded 197-page bill has encountered criticism from industry and civil liberties groups, which have worried about the ability to shut down parts of the Internet and raised concerns about “the potential for absolute power.” (The sole limit is on warrantless wiretapping.)

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