"All the World's a Stage We Pass Through" R. Ayana

Tuesday 15 September 2009

All Hail the Internet Czar: Censoring The Net

All Hail the Internet Czar

Censoring The Net

Garry Reed's picture

You just knew it was coming.

You just knew that some politician, somewhere, was working diligently to figure out a way to destroy the Internet because, face it, cyberspace offers way more freedom to common, ordinary, unimportant civilians than the government-hugging politicos can tolerate.

Turns out that West By God Virginia Democrat Senator Jay Rockefeller was that someone, having spent months secretly drafting a bill that would "permit the president to seize temporary control of private-sector networks during a so-called cybersecurity emergency." (CNET News).

The first question here is, what is a "cybersecurity emergency?"

The article describes an "emergency" as being similar to President Bush grounding all aircraft during the 9/11 attacks.

So a "cybersecurity emergency" would be when the electrical grid might be attacked from a broadband connection.

Or the nations "critical infrastructure" – water, banking, traffic lights, electronic health records - are attacked in some unspecified manner.

Rockefeller's legislation also "seeks to reshuffle" the way the federal government addresses "cybersecurity."

To even the most casual observer, this "reshuffle" sounds like nothing more than the never-ending do-nothing window-dressing power grabs on The Hill designed to make the common, ordinary, unimportant civilians think the government-hugging politicos are actually "Doing Something."

Like for example how the "Revenue Laboratory" of the Treasury Department's Bureau of Internal Revenue was reshuffled into the Prohibition era "Bureau of Prohibition" which was reshuffled into the "Alcohol Tax Unit" which was reshuffled into the "Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Division" which was reshuffled into the "Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms" which was reshuffled a final time to add the E for "and Explosives" to the end of its current BATFE acronym to create the officious, overbearing, arrogant agency we all know and love today.
Or like when various and sundry functions and jurisdictions of border and revenue enforcement agencies were reshuffled and turned into Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Or the gigantic reshuffle that shoved a dozen or more separate agencies into one Department of Homeland Security, which was more akin to a billiards break shot and re-rack than a reshuffle, carried out on the premise that one massively unwieldy and inefficient bureaucracy is better than a bunch of smaller unwieldy and inefficient bureaucracies.

The second question here is, what does seizure mean? The amorphous answer, the type those government-hugging politicos love to use so much, is that the law allows the president to "direct the national response to the cyber threat" for "the national defense and security."

Translated into realspeak, it means that any company designated as "critical" by the politically anointed becomes subject to government diktat – who they can hire, what information they can disclose, what information they "shall share" with the government, and whether government can "take control" of their computers and networks.

And maybe a third question would be, "why the President?" Or, perhaps more pointedly, "How the president?"

Last May, the president announced that a new cybersecurity coordinator position would be created inside the White House staff, but as of this writing the post remains empty.

That would be the Internet Czar.

And he or she, presumably, would be the one to do the actual seizing at the president's behest.

Another provision of the Rockefeller bill would implement a federal certification program for "cybersecurity professionals," and only those licensed elites would be allowed to manage those "critical" private sector systems.

This is called "politicization" and "government monopolization." Certification and licensing have nothing to do with professionalism. These people are already professionals. Professionalism doesn't come from a license or a certificate or a credential or a permit or even a PhD in Computer Sciences. Professionalism is the expert application of knowledge, no matter how it's come by.

But you can bet that a "Society of Cybersecurity Professionals" in some form will lobby hard for this bill. Government regulation always has the effect of limiting competition which drives up salaries which in turn raises the dues that pays the salaries and bennies and retirements of those who run the Society of Cybersecurity Professionals.

But there are people looking out for the interests of the common, ordinary, unimportant civilians, right? People like the Internet Security Alliance and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, right?

You'd expect these people to respond with defiant outrage and hardnosed resistance like "keep your mitts off my monitor" and "Don't touch my touch screen," right?

You'd be expecting wrong. The powder puff expressions escaping the lips of our cyberspace sentinels include "troubling" and "worry" and "controversial" and "concerns."

The Internet is ours today but perhaps not for very much longer. Yes, it was originally built by government, but it was built with our taxbucks and that makes it ours, not "theirs."

The final question, not just from libertarians but from any common, ordinary, unimportant civilian with at least one functioning brain cell is this: considering government's utterly abysmal record of failing to secure it's own computers, networks, and websites, how could they possibly have anything to say to the private sector on the subject of security?

Censorship Image - http://webpages.scu.edu/ftp/eching/images/qqxsgInternet%20censorship.gif

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