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Sen. Lieberman's Internet Goat Rope Continues

This is a Bad Idea that Just Won't Go Away

Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut has said he will retire when his term expires at the end of 2012. For those among us who kind of dig the Internet, this cannot come soon enough.

He recently went on record saying he wanted "to clear the air once and for all" regarding his wacky idea of controlling (read "shutting down") the Internet in the event of some unspecified national emergency. His intention was to assure everyone that "there is no so-called kill switch" in his proposed legislation."

He described such a notion as "antithetical to our goal." I got excited when I read those words. I paused to relish the thought of seeing the phrase "(antithetical to our goal) of protecting the First Amendment and continuing to guarantee an Internet free of government control."

As you can imagine, I was crushed when those weren't the words that followed in the Senator's statement. Instead he completed the thought by stating "of providing precise and targeted authorities to the president. Furthermore, it is impossible to turn off the Internet in this country."

Psychologists will tell you that the second reason someone gives to defend a decision is the real reason. In this case, Sen. Lieberman has determined that he just can't turn the darn thing off. He just can't figure out a way to develop a kill switch for the US.

It must be driving him nuts. I can imagine the tearful Skyping and Instant Messaging sessions he's having at night with his soulmates from North Africa and China.

Bad Idea Means Good Support
As it stands, his proposed legislation (S.3480) falls under the guise of national security, that all-purpose government excuse for intrusion and repression since 9/11. Sen. Lieberman wishes to empower the President, varioius government agencies, and Congress merely to "establish oversight." This is a euphemism if I've ever heard one.

The idea is just bad enough to have gained bipartisan support. My guess is that it will also be happily supported by a President who has, to date, shown a willingness to defend individuals in local affairs for which he has no responsibility, but who remains mute in defending individual liberties that come under his purview.

The preamble to Sen. Lieberman's goat rope of a bill states, "in the event of a cyberattack, it is essential that the law clearly and unambiguously delineate limits on what the federal government can and cannot do to protect the information infrastructure that is essential to the reliable operation of the Internet and the critical infrastructure of the nation."

I have an idea. How about what the government can and cannot do is "nothing."

I've already made my views known on this topic, and the bill's specific provisions have been widely reported. I won't stemwind further.

May a diseased yak have its way with Sen. Lieberman's vegetable garden in his retirement.

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

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