An Associated Press article reported that Egyptian internet has gone dark.
Internet service in Egypt was disrupted and the government deployed an elite special operations force in Cairo on Friday, hours before an anticipated new wave of anti-government protests..
Apparently social web sites were used to organize the protests and the government needed to prevent that from continuing. President Hosni Mubarak can do what he likes in his own country, but that could never happen in the United States .. or could it? A bill introduced last year by Senators Lieberman and Collins, the “Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act of 2010″, gives Obama the ability to shut down the internet and the courts can do nothing about it. A revision to the bill was presented in the lame duck session last year. From CNET News:
The revised version includes new language saying that the federal government’s designation of vital Internet or other computer systems “shall not be subject to judicial review.”
If the President shuts down a portion of the internet, even the courts can’t stop it, which means no one can. Checks and balances were built into the Constitution to prevent dictatorial actions by a single branch. This is by far, the furthest overreach by Congress in the last two years and Egypt is proving that all the doom-and-gloomers are not that crazy. While it may or may not be Obama that executes this power, some President might. It doesn’t matter whether I favor the President’s views or not, shutting down the internet without having the decision undergo judicial revue is, at best, tyrannical in nature.
Many progressives have tried to point out that the bill only allows the President to shut down portions of the internet critical to national security. However, as the CNET article continues, the latest revision added this as a definition of a portion of the internet that is controllable by the executive branch:
Another addition expanded the definition of critical infrastructure to include “provider of information technology,”
For those less tech-savvy, that definition definitely fits internet service providers, perhaps fits wireless internet providers and wireless telephony providers and could be extended to Google, Yahoo you name it.
This bill is quit simply, un-American. It is certainly unconstitutional. How can I be certain? If it was aligned to the Constitution, it wouldn’t need a clause to keep it from being reviewed by the Supreme Court.
The full text of the bill is available here