Sunday, February 6, 2011

US -- Outta Egypt's Way; Lieberman -- Join Your Zionist Talibans

or is anything we now write on blogs subject to the code of the Brave New World of paranoid American lobby, whores? Note -- The point of a free Internet is that we can choose to say outlandish things, or publish great works on artor just art in the eye of the beholder; climate change web sites and forums or peer reviewed journal articles; miracle claims about berries from Peru extended sexual performance; anything, really . . . but when it comes to questioning US Empire, well, US Patriot Act trumps all, in this Frightened world of Dems-Repubes-Teabaggers . . . .

Watch Democracy Now for real reporting on Egypt.

If the techy folk don’t join the world in condemning all these tools they created to spy on dissidents, bloggers, journalists; if the Googles of the world do not renounce their facilitation with governments like China’s that allow all searches to be blocked when the dictatorships decide what’s fit to read or not; if we do not recognize the Internet is going through a quick spasm of death here in the USA; if we do not take a page from the people of Egypt who have had 30 plus years of a USA backed dictator who’s functioned as a Saddam-lite in that country; if we allow this attack on our freedom of speech . . . .

…Well, a lot of if’s here. Let’s focus on the power of information. Here’s one comment on a US blog --

“[I]n an action unprecedented in Internet history, the Egyptian government appears to have ordered service providers to shut down all international connections to the Internet. Critical European-Asian fiber-optic routes through Egypt appear to be unaffected for now.

But every Egyptian provider, every business, bank, Internet cafe, website, school, embassy, and government office that relied on the big four Egyptian ISPs for their Internet connectivity is now cut off from the rest of the world. [...]

What happens when you disconnect a modern economy and 80,000,000 people from the Internet? What will happen tomorrow, on the streets and in the credit markets? This has never happened before, and the unknowns are piling up.”

Here’s a more mainstream new blurb on cutting off democracy, rebellion against tyranny:

President Hosni Mubarak's decision shut down access to the Internet last night to try — unsuccessfully — to stop the tide of unrest marked the first time an entire country (minus websites for Egypt's commercial international bank and stock exchange) has been sealed off. "It's quite easy, as we've seen," Lynn St. Amour, president of the Internet Society said from Davos. Indeed, in addition to recent efforts in Tunisia and Syria, Burma's military leaders partially cut off access during protests in 2005 and Nepal did the same as its king battled insurgents. China cut off access to its Xinjiang region for almost a year after ethnic unrest. But how exactly does it work? In Egypt's case it was made easier by the fact that although there are hundreds of service providers, just four own the infrastructure. Experts say newer telecommunications markets can orchestrate shutdowns relatively easily.

Vodafone, one of the four internet service providers, released a statement saying, "All mobile operators in Egypt have been instructed to suspend services in selected areas. Under Egyptian legislation, the authorities have the right to issue such an order and we are obliged to comply."

Governments also have the option of closing down routers, which direct traffic over a country's border. But in Egypt's case that would have permitted access from users within the country.

But "kill switches" aren't just the province of contested regimes in the Middle East and Asia. Earlier this week, Senator Joe Lieberman brought back a bill he first introduced last summer that would give President Obama power over privately owned Internet providers and computer systems during a "national cyberemergency." The revised version of the Lieberman-Collins bill now includes language stipulating that the federal government designation "shall not be subject to judicial review." It also expanded the president's purview to include "provider of information technology." Given the government's rush to cut off access to WikiLeaks for a few thousand embarrassing but dated diplomatic cables, it's hard to trust their definition of a "cyberemergency."

And a better complete story about our own idiots in congress --

Will Congress Give Obama the ‘Mubarak Option’?
by Megan Tady

When millions took to the streets of Egypt last week to protest the Mubarak regime and call for democratic reform, the Egyptian government responded by cutting off Internet access and people's ability to communicate with one another and the outside world.

Such drastic action is a new way for governments to smother popular movements worldwide... just as more and more people are turning to Twitter, Facebook and Youtube and using cell phones to mobilize for social chance and speak out against authoritarian regimes.

What's very worrying is that Congress is weighing legislation in the U.S. that could give our president the authority to flip the "kill switch" on the Internet and plunge the nation into digital darkness.

Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Thomas Carper (D-Dela.) introduced legislation in the last Congress that would give the Executive Branch far-reaching authority to cut off "critical infrastructure" in times of crisis.

The "Protect Cyberspace as a National Asset Act" wasn't passed in 2010. But, according to a recent report in Wired, Sens. Collins and Lieberman plan to reintroduce the bill in the new Congress. The bill as written offers a vague definition of what constitutes an emergency, and fails to create effective checks and balances.

Confronted by overwhelmingly negative public response, sparked in part by theWired story, the senators have gone on the defensive about the legislation. They issued a statement on Tuesday offering assurances that they do not seek to create a "kill switch" over the Internet.

Whatever the intentions, the reportedly broad, ambiguous language of the bill and its lack of safeguards for individual freedoms are deeply troubling. We need to be certain that no bill gives government the authority to cut off Internet access. Such power, in the hands of the top executive, poses a drastic threat to our First Amendment right to free speech and assembly.

The events in Egypt show the power of the Internet in fostering free speech and reform. Both progressive and conservative activists in the U.S. have relied on the organizing capacity of the Web and social networks to build popular movements as well.

We must guard against any effort to curtail our access to the open Internet. Take action here and stay tuned as this story continues to develop.

Megan Tady is Campaign Coordinator for Free Press.

Prior to joining Free Press, Megan was a national political reporter for In These Times, The New Standard, and worked extensively as a freelance journalist.

Obama On Net Neutrality, in the true non-functioning ethics code of this grand debater from Chicago:

"We are up against the belief that it's OK for lobbyists to dominate our government — that they are just part of the system in Washington. But we know that the undue influence of lobbyists is part of the problem, and this election is our chance to say that we're not going to let them stand in our way anymore."

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