Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Cybersecurity, the Internet Kill Switch and the Rule of Law.



The recent communications blackout in Egypt has given us a glimpse at what could possibly happen here. For decades, Egypt, a strong U.S. ally-and the second-largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid, after Israel-has been the recipient of approximately $2 billion in American aid every year, almost all of it in military aid, according to the Congressional Research Service, since the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty.

In other words, for the last 30-years, Egypt has been/still is a U.S.-supported dictatorship under President Hosni Mubarak. You don't have to be a rocket-scientist to figure out which side receives the most U.S. support.   Why most, and not all? In order to keep the Military Industrial Complex strong, it's necessary that the U.S. prop up both sides of any conflict, because when you dig  below the surface, you will see the money cycles right back to line the pockets of the Military Industrial Complex: Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics Corp, Boeing, Northrop Grumman Corp, Raytheon Co.  Therefore, generating conflict in and of itself is what's key.

Anyway, this dynamic could be easily seen as the Egyptian government pulled the Internet kill switch, disconnecting its people. While the US claims non-support of the Egyptian blackout, the US State Department continues to lobby for Boeing, the company who owns Narus, the creator and distributor of the  Internet off switch, and who sold to Telecom Egypt, "real-time traffic intelligence" or "Deep Packet Inspection" equipment needed to repress protester dissent, according to Tim Karr of the media policy group Free Press.

So, now that Egypt has returned to the Internet, what about us? What about the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act? Well, unfortunately, this legislation will return.

Senator Susan Collins, the Republican ranking member on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and one of the sponsors of the Act, said, “My legislation would provide a mechanism for the government to work with the private sector in the event of a true cyber emergency. It would give our nation the best tools available to swiftly respond to a significant threat.” Moreover, it shall "not be subject to judicial review".

Here's the thing.  The Communications Act of 1934 already grants the President unchecked authority in times of emergency. Stated in the 1934 Act, it says, if a "state of public peril or disaster or other national emergency" exists, the president may "authorize the use or control of any...station or device." Why do we need more legislation? Why block judicial review?  Why give Homeland Security and DHS secretary Janet Napolitano, in particular, the final word over the courts? It's just another excuse to throw away the "rule of law" whenever the powers that be decide to manufacture declare a "crisis".

"Egypt's information blackout is an extreme step designed to disrupt planned marches, to block images of police brutality, and to silence dissent once and for all. But the shuttering of the Internet and most telecommunications by the Egyptian government also means that the government can take unmonitored action against its citizens, which poses a dire threat to human rights." -- Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.
Links:

RE: Civil Liberties Issues in Cybersecurity Bill

How Egypt Shut Down the Internet

Future Nightmare Scenario: An Internet Block
The following statement is enough of a nightmare in and of itself, nevertheless, the rest of the article is very interesting.
"Less than an hour later, Rep. Boehner (R-Ohio), Speaker of the House of Representatives, is sworn in as the 45th President of the United States."
FreeNet is free software which lets you anonymously share files, browse and publish "freesites" (web sites accessible only through Freenet) and chat on forums, without fear of censorship. Freenet is decentralised to make it less vulnerable to attack, and if used in "darknet" mode, where users only connect to their friends, is very difficult to detect.

Communications by Freenet nodes are encrypted and are routed through other nodes to make it extremely difficult to determine who is requesting the information and what its content is.

Egyptians Find New Routes to the Web

"When countries block, we evolve," an activist with the group We Rebuild wrote in a Twitter message Friday.

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