Lieberman: China Can Shut Down The Internet, Why Can’t We?
Attempting to reassure CNN viewers that the government isn’t trying to shut down free speech on web, Senator only stokes more alarm by citing country that censors all online dissent
Paul Joseph Watson
Monday, June 21, 2010
Senator Joe Lieberman, co-author of a bill that would give President Obama a ‘kill switch’ to shut down parts of the Internet, attempted to reassure CNN viewers yesterday that concerns about the government regulating free speech on the web were overblown, but he only stoked more alarm by citing China, a country that censors all online dissent against the state, as the model to which American should compare itself.
During an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union with Candy Crowley, Lieberman characterized concerns that his 197-page Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act (PDF) legislation represents an attempt to hand Obama “absolute power” over the Internet as “total misinformation,” adding that people were “intentionally peddling misinformation”.
Lieberman again invoked “cybersecurity” as the motivation behind the bill and tried to assuage the worries of critics. “So I say to my friends on the Internet, relax. Take a look at the bill. And this is something that we need to protect our country,” said the Senator.
However, Lieberman’s choice of comparison in justifying the necessity of the bill will only serve to heighten concerns that the government is going after free speech.
“Right now China, the government, can disconnect parts of its Internet in case of war and we need to have that here too,” said Lieberman.
The Senator’s reference to China is a telling revelation of what the cybersecurity agenda is really all about. China’s vice-like grip over its Internet systems has very little to do with “war” and everything to do with silencing all dissent against the state.
Chinese Internet censorship is imposed via a centralized government blacklist of any websites that contain criticism of the state, porn, or any other content deemed unsuitable by the authorities. Every time you attempt to visit a website, you are re-routed through the government firewall, often making for long delays and crippling speeds.
China has exercised its power to shut down the Internet, something that Lieberman wants to introduce in the U.S., at politically sensitive times in order to stem the flow of information about government abuse and atrocities. During the anti-government riots which occurred in July 2009, the Chinese government completely shut down the Internet across the entire northwestern region of Xinjiang for days. Similarly, Internet access in parts of Tibet is routinely restricted as part of government efforts to pre-empt and neutralize unrest.
Major websites like Twitter, Google and You Tube have also been shut down either temporarily or permanently by Chinese authorities.