New Cybersecurity Bill Gives Obama ‘Power To Shut Down Companies’
Businesses who don’t follow government orders would be suspended for at least 90 days with no congressional oversight
Paul Joseph Watson
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
An amalgamated cybersecurity bill that lawmakers hope to pass before the end of the year includes new powers which would allow President Obama to shut down not only entire areas of the Internet, but also businesses and industries that fail to comply with government orders following the declaration of a national emergency – increasing fears that the legislation will be abused as a political tool.
The draft bill is a combination of two pieces of legislation originally crafted by Senators Lieberman and Rockefeller. One of the differences between the new bill and the original Lieberman version is that the Internet “kill switch” power has been limited to 90 days without congressional oversight, rather than the original period of four months contained in the Lieberman bill.
In other words, President Obama can issue an emergency declaration that lasts 30 days and he can renew it for a further 60 days before congress can step in to oversee the powers.
The new powers would give Obama a free hand to not only shut down entire areas of the Internet and block all Internet traffic from certain countries, but under the amalgamated bill he would also have the power to completely shut down industries that don’t follow government orders, according to a Reuters summary of the new bill.
“Industries, companies or portions of companies could be temporarily shut down, or be required to take other steps to address threats,” states the report, citing concerns about an “imminent threat to the U.S. electrical grid or other critical infrastructure such as the water supply or financial network.”
The only protection afforded to companies under the new laws is that they would have to be defined as “critical” in order to come under government regulation, but since the government itself would decide to what companies this label applies, it’s hardly a comforting layer of security.
“Even in the absence of an imminent threat, companies could face government scrutiny. Company employees working in cybersecurity would need appropriate skills. It also would require companies to report cyber threats to the government, and to have plans for responding to a cyber attack,” states the report.
As we have highlighted, the threat from cyber-terrorists to the U.S. power grid or water supply is minimal. The perpetrators of an attack on such infrastructure would have to have direct physical access to the systems that operate these plants to cause any damage. The recent Stuxnet malware attack, for example, was introduced and spread through a physical USB device, not via the public Internet.
Any perceived threat from the public Internet to these systems is therefore completely contrived and strips bare what many fear is the real agenda behind cybersecurity – to enable the government to regulate free speech on the Internet.