U.S. Demands Internet Lifeline Abroad While Seeking Kill Switch At Home

It’s encouraging to see State work with private enterprise and NGOs to create alternative networks should authoritarian governments seek to shut down access and social media.

The State Department has been working furiously and mostly behind the scenes to cajole and pressure Arab governments to halt their clampdowns on communications and social media. In Tunisia there seem to have been real results. In Egypt, it’s too soon to tell.

Ever since the State Department intervened during protests by the Iranian Green movement in June 2009, convincing Twitter to postpone maintenance so opposition protestors could communicate, the U.S. government has been ramping up its worldwide effort to set up a network of organizations that could circumvent crackdowns on Internet and cell phone technologies by foreign governments. That effort faced its first two major tests over the last few weeks and the State Department has been working with private companies, non-governmental organizations, and academic institutions to activate this network and put it to use in real time.

Wise policy. State clearly did its best to get ahead of curve. What a shame then that Congress and the Obama Administration continue to promote the infamous Internet kill switch bill here at home.

The news of Egypt’s crackdown on Web access is raising new concerns over a comprehensive cybersecurity bill that critics claim gives the president a “kill switch” for the Internet.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has recently indicated she plan to re-introduce the bipartisan legislation she crafted last year with Senate Homeland Security Committee chairman Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), which passed the Senate Homeland Security Committee last year only to get mired in a standoff with Senate Commerce Committee members over which panel should have oversight of civilian cybersecurity.

Civil rights advocates such as the ACLU also raised concerns about the bill, which they claim gives the president the ability to shut down the Web in the event of a catastrophic cyber-attack. Specifically, observers are concerned the new version of the bill will reportedly not allow for judicial review when the administration shuts down a network under attack.


  1. Comment says

    @Dr Leo Strauss
    No one cares whar Collins or Carper thinks because Lieberman is just always suspected of being up to no good and being sanctimonious about it, for good (bad) measure.

  2. Comment says

    It also shows that these libs don’t really think about what was recently used to defeat them – Or they just don’t take it seriously – Maddow has used the same construction. It just reeks of weak thinking to use the language of their opposition w/out some clever re-spin. It’s saying all those prior objections when it was used against Kerry are no meaningless.

    It’s a very small think to nit-pick about – admitted. But we think we have seen this as symbolic because we have seen variations of using similar gop talking points without really thinking it thru – And so they wonder why they don’t get credit for the rising market or why they get blamed for Bush’s policies. etc. Btw – O’Donnell has to stop taking unbrage over so many minor things – He is faking outrage when he does it. And Shultz w the yelling etc

  3. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Euskal, agree re America’s future. Comment’s observations about MSNBC parroting unknowingly Right Wing framing just shows the limits of corporate voices marketed as ‘liberal’.

  4. Comment says

    Interesting that Tweety think Obama is being cold and ruthless with Mubarak (in power 30 years), but doesn’t get upset when Obama sends drones and rockets that no doubt kill more people than intended. But those people don’t go to parties in DC. Btw – Tweety is no claiming to have found the roots of JFK’s “ask not” speech in the notes of Kennedy’s headmaster – But he is picking up bad research habits from Doris K.G. because this so-called original Matthews research was published years ago by Nigel Hamilton.

  5. Comment says

    MSNBC is also showing classic loser lib syndrome because they keep mocking Mitt by saying “He was for it before he was against it.” (referring to mandates) So they follow up showing that Kerry video saying that phrase – Yet, they know that Kerry clip was taken out of context and Kerry was discussing very different votes – albeit unartfully. So the boyos at msnbc are willing to ratify and endorse a Rovian attack c2004 against Kerry and mislead their own fans in order to make an ineffective and point against Romney.
    No big deal – but symbolic of the general lameness.

  6. DrLeoStrauss says

    Tweety obviously is having some cognitive dissonance with the whole ‘Lean Forward’ thing.

  7. Comment says

    Tweety seems genuinely hurt that Obama is being cold to his friend Mubarak – Why so cold? Why isn’t Obama saying what a great job Mubarak has been doing? Etc. Total doofus – no idea how weird he sounds with this public wailing for a dictator – even a strategic one.

  8. euskal says

    Good question. I get the sense it is a nice way to deflect 30 years of autocratic rule supported by US. They seem to imply that if unemployment rate was lower, our Egyptians would be happy under the leadership of Mr. Mumbarak and his son currently hiding in UK.

    As for the US, we still think its a fair game, just wait until Wikileaks provides us something contrary and then all bets are off. I am not sure we would have the type of broad support seen in Egypt. Perhaps we can learn from them. At any rate, it will be the young that will have to determine our fate…..

  9. DrLeoStrauss says

    Why is it that vast income disparities and wealth inequality are always signs of obvious problems for other countries? Cable heads citing the ‘high Egyptian unemployment’ as a problem for stability fail to note the U.S. rate is exactly the same — over 9%.

  10. Comment says

    It’s funny and sad that Ari thinks he can say he doesn’t trust Baradei without everyone laughing in his face.

    re Sony Vs. Hotz – Common sense suggests the judge doesn’t really understand that Hotz cannot return a hack.

  11. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Comment :

    Interesting story:

    Sony got its TRO granted which seems to have caught the jail breaking digerati off guard. Should Sony prevail it will make Apple, Microsoft, Nintendo and the IP posse happy. Will be interesting to see how the judge handles the DMCA issues.

  12. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Ari needs Elbaradei to come clean about where in the Bekka he hid Saddam’s WMD.

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