“To amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 and other laws to enhance the security and resiliency of the cyber and communications infrastructure of the United States.” These are the words used to describe the latest cybersecurity bill, S. 3480 “Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act of 2010,” introduced on June 10 and cosponsored by Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.)
Not content with establishing a gigantic framework for the federal government to control private sector Internet companies and those who use the World Wide Web, the new legislation, under the cosponsors’ claims of building a “public/private partnership” to increase “economic security, national security and public safety,” there is a most disturbing allocation of authority to the Executive Branch.
Emergency response authority would be granted to the President to protect critical infrastructure if any level of cyber vulnerability is detected by the federal government. Congress is supposed to be notified in advance of the exercise of the emergency powers and any emergency measures are also supposed to be the least disruptive as possible, expiring in 30 days unless re-extended. But a President could keep extending the measures indefinitely.
There are several acknowledgements given to international partners of the United States, and international agreements as well. If a declaration of emergency is declared by the President, then the Director of the Office of Cyber Security has the authority to coordinate responses with certain international partners to protect the critical infrastructure, and even international standards may be relied upon for use as cyber guidelines.
The 197-page bill that creates a super-sized bureaucratic agency with incredible power over private enterprise and private information sources and means of communication containing all sorts of hidden dictates is just another in a list of similar bills that keeps coming to the fore. The Senate Commerce Committee had previously approved a bill in March cosponsored by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine.) that also contained a presidential “kill-switch” provision.
Whether it’s S. 3480, the Lieberman/Collins/Carper caper that gets the nod, or the Rockefeller/Snowe job, S. 773, the American people need to loudly and strongly voice their opposition to government monitoring and control of this country’s Information Technology systems and the infrastructure these systems run on.
The U.S. already possesses a very healthy and capable private IT security industry. Government interference would only destroy private protection initiatives and efforts, and allow faulty security and intelligence agencies and the Executive Branch to hold sway over the liberties of the people. Help stop this unconstitutional power grab and oppose any government intervention or interference in the private communications network by contacting your representatives in Washington D.C. as soon as possible.
Your friends at the John Birch Society
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