Egypt’s sudden removal and equally sudden return to the web has given open Internet advocates a stockpile of new ammunition. The first target of this arsenal will be S.3480, a new version of an old piece of (failed) legislation. The “Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act” was first introduced in 2010. It didn’t work then, but Senators Lieberman (I-Conn), Collins (R-Maine) and Carper (D-Dela) think 2011 is the magic year.
This bill will hand control of privately owned computer networks over to the President during a “national cyber emergency”. There will be no court review needed for the executive branch to shut down any computers, networks and websites needed in order to “preserve the reliable operation of covered critical infastructure”.
Advocates have already scrambled to fight the bill. Freepress.net has mobilized to help angry users send letters condemning the bill off to their representatives.
In the event that S.3480 passes, the United States will join at least one other western government in holding terminal control over their citizen’s Internet access. Austria is currently developing a “kill switch” of their own, to lock Austria away from outside Internet / mobile networks in the event of a “Cyberwar”.
The demonstrations in Cairo couldn’t have come at a more pertinent time. 2011 will play host to some interesting debates about the exact nature of the Internet- and what, if any, responsibility our government has to keep it secure.