Senators Continue to Tweak 'Kill Switch' Bill

Lora Bentley

I mentioned earlier this month that Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and his co-sponsors reintroduced their bill, "Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset." They tweaked the bill in an effort to avoid the "Internet kill switch" label. At the time, the senators explained the reworked bill would not give the president or any one person the power to shut down all of the country's Internet.

 

Indeed, doing so would be nearly impossible since there are more than 4,000 Internet service providers in the U.S., compared to Egypt's four.

 

Last week, CNET News reported Lieberman and company had also gone so far as to change the bill's title. Now called the "Cybersecurity and Internet Freedom Act," the bill contains emergency measures that "apply in a precise and targeted way only to our most critical infrastructure," said co-sponsor Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).

 

But apparently the changes aren't enough to appease Internet freedom and privacy advocates. CNET quotes the Electronic Frontier Foundation's senior staff attorney, Kevin Bankston, as follows:

The president would have essentially unchecked power to determine what services can be connected to the Internet or even what content can pass over the Internet in a cybersecurity emergency.

What's more, according to The Trentonian, critics are concerned their right to free speech on the Internet is in jeopardy. But as Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Communications Director Leslie Phillips explained:

This bill has nothing to do with turning off the Internet. [It] is directed at the networks, the assets of our most critical infrastructure which if it were attacked would cause mass casualties and major economic damage.


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