Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bait And (Kill) Switch

A spate of headlines yesterday spread the word that a chastened Sen. Collins, stung by criticism from across the ideological spectrum, had revamped her "cybersecurity" legislation, abandoning efforts to give the government power to shut down parts of the internet:

--US Bill Would Prohibit Internet "kill Switch"

--Senators Dump Internet 'Kill Switch' for Cyber-Attack Response

--New Cyber Security Bill Kills the 'Kill Switch'

But did Collins and friends really revise the bill fundamentally to address concerns and answer objections?

Or did she and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) instead just make a few cosmetic changes in a bid to reframe the debate and snooker lazy reporters into showering their pet project with a flurry of press release journalism?

What do you think?

The revised wording (PDF) continues to alarm civil liberties groups and other critics of the bill, who say the language would allow the government to shut down portions of the Internet or restrict access to certain Web sites or types of content.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation said today that it continues to have concerns about the Lieberman-Collins bill. "The president would have essentially unchecked power to determine what services can be connected to the Internet or even what content can pass over the Internet in a cybersecurity emergency," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. "Our concerns have not changed."
Jim Harper, director of information policy studies at the free-market Cato Institute and a member of a Homeland Security advisory panel, says that supporters of the bill have yet to make the argument that such governmental emergency powers will do more good than harm.

"They recognize that a total Internet kill switch is totally unacceptable," Harper said today. "A smaller Internet kill switch, or a series of kill switches, is also unacceptable...How does this make cybersecurity better? They have no answer."

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