Legislative Alert: SB 773 and SB 778

Obama to Control the Internet?

Senate bills No. 773 and 778, introduced by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V., are both part of what’s being called the Cybersecurity Act of 2009, which would create a new Office of the National Cybersecurity Advisor, reportable directly to the president and charged with defending the country from cyber attack.

I have a copy of a working draft of the legislation. It spells out plans to grant the Secretary of Commerce access to all privately owned information networks deemed to be critical to the nation’s infrastructure “without regard to any provision of law, regulation, rule or policy restricting such access.”

There are three areas where we need to be very concerned, and where it seems to me there might be violations of the Constitution:

* First, the White House, through the national cybersecurity advisor, shall have the authority to disconnect “critical infrastructure” networks from the Internet – including private citizens’ banks and health records, if Rockefeller’s examples are accurate – if they are found to be at risk of cyber attack. The working copy of the bill, however, does not define what constitutes a cybersecurity emergency, and apparently leaves the question to the discretion of the president.
* Second, the bill establishes the Department of Commerce as “the clearinghouse of cybersecurity threat and vulnerability information,” including the monitoring of private information networks deemed a part of the “critical infrastructure.”
* Third, the legislation proposes implementation of a professional licensing program for certifying who can serve as a cybersecurity professional.

In layman’s terms, what this means is that the White House will have the power to shut down the internet if there is a “cybersecurity emergency.” A cybersecurity emergency isn’t defined and is left to the discretion of the President. Which means that whenever there is information coming across the internet that is unfavorable to the President, he would have the power to declare a “cybersecurity emergency.”

This is a very dangerous power to give to the President and the Administration. Having the power to control the internet is a way for the Party in power to control free speech, under the guise of declaring a cybersecurity emergency.

The internet is the only way that we can freely disseminate information. We can’t do it through the mainstream media. If we give control of the internet to the government, free speech, and our ability to communicate our message can be totally stifled in this country.

Urge your Senators, and others, to vote NO on S.B. 773 and S.B. 778.