timely quote

Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president.

Theodore Roosevelt

Saturday, August 29, 2009

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From DBD

Chris Muir over at DBD has pointed out a CNET story and described it perfectly, as usual.

Internet companies and civil liberties groups were alarmed this spring when a U.S. Senate bill proposed handing the White House the power to disconnect private-sector computers from the Internet.

They're not much happier about a revised version that aides to Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, have spent months drafting behind closed doors. CNET News has obtained a copy of the 55-page draft of S.773 (excerpt), which still appears to permit the president to seize temporary control of private-sector networks during a so-called cybersecurity emergency.

The new version would allow the president to "declare a cybersecurity emergency" relating to "non-governmental" computer networks and do what's necessary to respond to the threat. Other sections of the proposal include a federal certification program for "cybersecurity professionals," and a requirement that certain computer systems and networks in the private sector be managed by people who have been awarded that license.
That is a scary set of statements. The wording in the excerpt is very vague, and there's no way to know how that could possibly be interpreted. Well, it will be interpreted in the way that gives the government the most power and leeway in any situation.

Rockefeller's revised legislation seeks to reshuffle the way the federal government addresses the topic. It requires a "cybersecurity workforce plan" from every federal agency, a "dashboard" pilot project, measurements of hiring effectiveness, and the implementation of a "comprehensive national cybersecurity strategy" in six months--even though its mandatory legal review will take a year to complete.

The privacy implications of sweeping changes implemented before the legal review is finished worry Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco. "As soon as you're saying that the federal government is going to be exercising this kind of power over private networks, it's going to be a really big issue," he says.

Probably the most controversial language begins in Section 201, which permits the president to "direct the national response to the cyber threat" if necessary for "the national defense and security." The White House is supposed to engage in "periodic mapping" of private networks deemed to be critical, and those companies "shall share" requested information with the federal government. ("Cyber" is defined as anything having to do with the Internet, telecommunications, computers, or computer networks.)

"The language has changed but it doesn't contain any real additional limits," EFF's Tien says. "It simply switches the more direct and obvious language they had originally to the more ambiguous (version)...The designation of what is a critical infrastructure system or network as far as I can tell has no specific process. There's no provision for any administrative process or review. That's where the problems seem to start. And then you have the amorphous powers that go along with it."

Translation: If your company is deemed "critical," a new set of regulations kick in involving who you can hire, what information you must disclose, and when the government would exercise control over your computers or network.

Wow. If you're a power company or a telecomm provider or a bank or, I don't know, Wal Mart...anything that this new cybersecurity coordinator deems "critical" then you have to submit to network mapping, hiring regulations and approval as well as federal control over your network whenever there is an "emergency." Because more regulation always promotes competition and performance. Just look at the mortgage industry.

So the real question, other than what in the hell does the government think it's doing, is what would be considered an emergency? There are hacking attempts all the time from China, Russia, various African countries and others, and that's just from script kiddies who downloaded the most recent rootkit. China, for one, has a comprehensive, government backed hacking effort aimed at the US. Is that an emergency? What gets taken over and shut down if something happens? If Chris runs a critical 'toon during an "emergency," do we see the picture above instead of our daily dose of conservative art?

Anything that gives the government more control over the private sector reduces our rights and freedoms. Isn't the republican party the party that wants to preserve our rights and freedoms? Then why the hell is Olympia Snowe (R[ino]-Maine) a sponsor of this bill? Why isn't the ACLU screaming about this? I remember the Patriot Act and all of the screaming from the Dems and ACLU about how it was an encroachment on our rights and freedoms, so where are they now? This is a bill that would allow the President to selectively shut down private websites, networks and computers, and there's no outcry from the ACLU? Wouldn't this be considered an encroachment on our rights and freedoms? I think we know the answer to that last question: It's because the ACLU is dedicated to protecting the rights and freedoms taken away by the evil republicans. Because if the democrats do it it is for the greater good and therefore acceptable.

As for Sen Snowe, it's because she's not really a conservative. She's only voted with the republicans 57.8% of the time, which is the lowest party line voting percentage in the entire Senate. Regardless of your current view of the republican party, they're all we have up there right now, and we need to be able to count on them. We can't count on Olympia Snowe. Or Sen Susan Collins (R[ino]-Maine), either, who has the second lowest partly line vote record at 59.3%, right above Snowe. And we can't count on the Senate to throw this bill out if it makes it to a vote, so contact your Senator and let them know that more government control is not acceptable. Add this vote to your list of issues you'll use to decide for whom you'll vote, and let your Senators know that this one is on that list. I know it's on mine.

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