Senators Reintroduce Internet Bill, Decry 'Kill Switch' Label

Lora Bentley

When Egyptian government officials effectively shut down the country's Internet and cell phone services at the end of January in an effort to stem protestors and anti-government groups from rallying, it not only didn't stop protestors from organizing, but it also seemed to intensify their calls for the end of President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule.

 

What's more, the shutdown cost the country nearly $100 million, according to The Epoch Times. And that's a conservative estimate.

 

That U.S. legislators would again consider what some have called an "Internet kill switch" bill in light of the happenings in Egypt is perplexing. But The Washington Post reports Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) have introduced a re-worked bill that would allow the government to shut down parts of the Internet here in the U.S. in the event of a "cyber security emergency."

 

Perhaps anticipating pushback from the public on this issue, the senators issued a joint statement explaining the current bill would not allow a shutdown equal in scope to the one in Egypt, nor would it grant shutdown authority to any one official.

 

They said, in part:

We would never sign on to legislation that authorized the President, or anyone else, to shut down the Internet. ... [T]he legislation expressly forbids any action that would violate the First Amendment and also prohibits limiting internet traffic, e-mails, and other forms of communication (except those between critical infrastructure providers) unless no other action would prevent a regional or national catastrophe.


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