The government is being encouraged to prepare to block websites and Internet traffic in the event of a worsening swine flu pandemic that results in network congestion, a move that represents a potential end run around the agenda to regulate the world wide web.
A report by the General Accountability Office warns that a severe pandemic, or a worsening of the H1N1 outbreak, could result in 40 percent absentee rates at work and school, meaning that the Internet would be overloaded with people working from home as well as bored children sucking up bandwidth via online gaming.
Securities exchanges already have back-up systems to cope with such a scenario but the same cannot be said for general commerce, warns the report, adding that the federal government, specifically Homeland Security, should be given the power to block certain websites and regulate Internet traffic.
“Private Internet providers might need government authorization to block popular websites, the report states, or to reduce residential transmission speeds to make way for commerce,” according to a Reuters article.
“DHS has not developed a strategy to address potential Internet congestion,” the report said.
The GAO report also highlights the lack of knowledge about whether the public, other federal agencies, as well as Internet Service Providers would co-operate with any directive to regulate the Internet during a pandemic.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Jerald Levine hinted that the feds would be eager to regulate the web and block websites in the event of a pandemic, stating, “An expectation of unlimited Internet access during a pandemic is not realistic.”
The agenda to introduce government control and regulation of the Internet has accelerated since President Obama took office.
The Cybersecurity Act of 2009, introduced by Senators John Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) in April, gives the president the ability to “declare a cybersecurity emergency” and shut down or limit Internet traffic in any “critical” information network “in the interest of national security.” The bill does not define a critical information network or a cybersecurity emergency. That definition would be left to the president, according to a Mother Jones report.
Jennifer Granick, civil liberties director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, dismissed the entire premise of the Cybersecurity Act when she pointed out the fact that granting centralized power to the government to control networks would in fact make the stability of the Internet less safe, because allowing one person to access all information on a network “makes it more vulnerable to intruders,” she said. “You’ve basically established a path for the bad guys to skip down.”
During a hearing on the bill, Senator John Rockefeller betrayed the true intent behind the legislation when he stated, “Would it have been better if we’d have never invented the Internet,” while fearmongering about cyber attacks on the U.S. government and how the country could be shut down.
Watch the clip below.
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