Senators decry link between Egypt, ‘kill switch’ bill
Three U.S. senators who want to give the president emergency powers over the Internet are protesting comparisons with the “kill switch” highlighted by Egypt’s Net disconnection.
In a statement yesterday, the politicians said their intent was to allow the president “to protect the U.S. from external cyber attacks,” not to shut down the Internet, and announced that they would revise their legislation to explicitly prohibit that from happening.
“Some have suggested that our legislation would empower the president to deny U.S. citizens access to the Internet,” said the statement from Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Senator Tom Carper, (D-Del.). “Nothing could be further from the truth.” Lieberman, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, is chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
They said, however, that they’ll make sure their forthcoming legislation “contains explicit language prohibiting the president from doing what President [Hosni] Mubarak did.”
Egypt restored Internet service to the country at 11:29 a.m. today Cairo time after a five-day blackout that was intended to quell anti-government protests.
The latest public version of their Internet emergency legislation, S.3480, was approved by Lieberman’s committee in December but was not voted on in the full Senate.
Their so-dubbed “Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act” would hand the president power over privately owned computer systems during a “national cyber emergency” and prohibit review by the court system. CNET reported last week that it will be reintroduced in the new Congress.