Memo to the President: Hands of the Internet

Mr. President you may have heard about this thing called the Internet, it’s that thing that has become a global backbone of communication, e-commerce, and yes some really silly crap called Social Media. Here’s the thing though – there seems to be some real idiots in your Congress who seem to be under the delusion that the Internet is the property of the United States of America.

In particular is a real goof-ball by the name of Senator Joe Lieberman who believes that it is your country’s god-given right to regulate the Internet. Now I would try and explain the reality of the situation and how the Internet works but I have a strong feeling that I would only end up with a massive headache from banging my head against the wall one too many times.

However it is this Senator Lieberman who, with delusions of grandeur, is proposing a new bill titled Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, or PCNAA (pdf), that would effectively give you – The President – a kill switch over the Internet.

Did I happen to mention that the Internet is global?

Just because the US has decided, through ICANN, to keep control of the root servers of the Internet doesn’t make you the owners of the Internet by default; regardless of Lieberman’s delusions to the contrary. The fact is that this is just a back door attempt to bring the Internet under the control of the Department of Homeland Security as Declan McCullagh points out in his reporting of this power grab (emphasis mine):

Lieberman’s proposal would form a powerful and extensive new Homeland Security bureaucracy around the NCCC, including “no less” than two deputy directors, and liaison officers to the Defense Department, Justice Department, Commerce Department, and the Director of National Intelligence. (How much the NCCC director’s duties would overlap with those of the existing assistant secretary for infrastructure protection is not clear.)

The NCCC also would be granted the power to monitor the “security status” of private sector websites, broadband providers and other internet components. Lieberman’s legislation requires the NCCC to provide “situational awareness of the security status” of the portions of the internet that are inside the United States — and also those portions in other countries that, if disrupted, could cause significant harm.

Of course there is the typical sweet deal being dangled in front the companies to con them into signing on this stupidity – immunity from civil lawsuits. There is no doubt that companies would fall all over themselves to ass-kiss up to Lieberman and his bill because this could save them millions upon millions of future profits.

I understand the need for the United States to protect itself and its agencies to protect themselves from possible cyber-attacks but that doesn’t give you Mr. President the right to declare some sort of Internet State of Emergency and inflict your paranoid responses on the rest of the world. Just look at your responses to suspicious packages and how whole sections of cities like New York are shut down.

Given that this type of reaction is typical the effect of your Internet kill switch would make the whole web resemble Twitter’s Fail Whale but on a global scale.

If you and the government really believe that the Internet within the US borders need to be hardened fine – but do it the right way. Make the companies and government agencies most likely to be attack responsible for hardening their own systems.

You want to pass laws fine but make sure they are laws that make the banks, Wall Street, ICANN, the companies responsible of the root servers, public utilities – make them responsible. If anyone is to be held accountable it is the very people that the Lieberman bill would give a free pass to.

Just remember Mr. President the US does not and has never owned the Internet. It was created as a border-less way to communicate and share information – both good and bad. The Internet is the ultimate agnostic regardless of what the entertainment industry thinks or what what the idiot Senator might believe.

image courtesy of Burtonf166