Tags: feds | internet | shutdown

Congress Would Give Obama Power to Shut Down Internet

Wednesday, 15 Apr 2009 01:14 PM

By Dan Weil

Some experts say the government needs to step into Cyberspace to protect the Internet and its users from security threats.

A bill is working its way through Congress that would give the government final control over fundamental Internet infrastructure.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco group advocating maximum freedom on the web, thinks the proposed legislation goes too far.

“The bill as it exists now risks giving the federal government unprecedented power over the Internet without necessarily improving security in the ways that matter most,” the group argues in an editorial on its web site.

“It should be opposed or radically amended.”

The foundation worries that the government will wrest control of the Internet from the private sector. “The bill would create a major shift of power away from users and companies to the federal government,” the piece states.

“This is a potentially dangerous approach that favors the dramatic over the sober response.”

The group is particularly worried about the commander-in-chief becoming commander of the web. It says the bill gives the president “unfettered authority to shut down Internet traffic in an emergency and disconnect critical infrastructure systems on national security grounds.”

Because the bill doesn’t give guidance on exactly when the president can nuke the Net, it goes too far, the group maintains.

Most of the controversy that has emerged over government involvement with the Internet has centered on taxation.

Many web purchases are tax-free, such as music downloads. But bulging state budget deficits are leading states around the country to consider imposing sales taxes on these transactions, CNET reports.

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