The world is one major cyber event away from total restriction of the net
Friday, March 5th, 2010
The latest attack on the free internet comes in the shape of suggestions by former director of national intelligence under George W. Bush, Mike McConnell, who writes in an op-ed that the web should be “re-engineered” in order that it can be completely controlled and managed by U.S. intelligence.
Last week McConnell testified to Congress that the country was in the midst of a cyberwar that it was losing. He believes that a coming cyberattack will cause more economic damage to the U.S. than the 9/11 attacks.
With this in mind mind McConnell penned a piece carried by the Washington Post , in which he urged that financial transactions, power grids, air and ground transportation, telecommunications, and water-filtration systems were all under imminent threat from cyber terrorist attacks.
McConnell called for a return to a Cold War mentality of deterrence, writing that the U.S. should make it clear that any cyber attack would be met with immediate and unequivocal retaliation.
“We need to develop an early-warning system to monitor cyberspace, identify intrusions and locate the source of attacks with a trail of evidence that can support diplomatic, military and legal options — and we must be able to do this in milliseconds.” he wrote.
“More specifically, we need to re-engineer the internet to make attribution, geolocation, intelligence analysis and impact assessment — who did it, from where, why and what was the result — more manageable,” McConnell added.
McConnell’s comments prompted Wired  to hit back, labeling him “the biggest threat to the open internet”, and commenting that cyberwar hype is being used as a pretext to destroy the freedom of the web:
“He’s talking about changing the internet to make everything anyone does on the net traceable and geo-located,” Ryan Singel writes, “so the National Security Agency can pinpoint users and their computers for retaliation if the U.S. government doesn’t like what’s written in an e-mail, what search terms were used, what movies were downloaded.”
As Singel points out, McConnell now works for defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, a subsidiary of the Carlyle Group – the global private equity investment firm that enjoyed business links with the Bin Laden family prior to 9/11.
Booz Allen Hamilton now has huge billion dollar contracts with the NSA concerning cybersecurity. It is hardly surprising that McConnell has long pushed for the NSA to become the lead agency authorized to monitor and guard all government and private networks.
“Make no mistake, the military industrial complex now has its eye on the internet.” Singel warns. “Never shy of extending its power, the military industrial complex wants to turn the internet into yet another venue for an arms race. And it’s waging a psychological warfare campaign on the American people to make that so.”
Singel even suggests that a false flag cyber attack could be just around the corner, in order to provide the perfect pretext for a complete take over of the net:
“Now the question is: Which of these events can be turned into a Gulf of Tonkin-like fakery that can create enough fear to let the military and the government turn the open internet into a controlled, surveillance-friendly net.” he writes.
Such musings echo warnings from experts such as Lawrence Lessig, a respected Law Professor from Stanford University , who stated in August 2008 that “There’s going to be an i-9/11 event” which will act as a catalyst for a radical reworking of the law pertaining to the internet.
Lessig noted that former government Counter Terrorism Czar Richard Clarke had told him personally that there was already in existence a cyber equivalent of the Patriot Act, an “i-Patriot Act” if you will, and that the Justice Department is waiting for a cyber terrorism event in order to implement its provisions.
The U.S. military also has some $30 Billion invested in it’s own mastering the internet projects .
In 2009 the Cybersecurity Act was introduced , proposing to allow the federal government to tap into any digital aspect of every citizen’s information without a warrant. Banking, business and medical records would be wide open to inspection, as well as personal instant message and e mail communications.
Fast forward to the present, and the bill looming in the Senate  legislates for handing the president emergency powers over the internet in the event of a cyber attack or other national emergency.
Earlier this week, the Obama administration lifted the veil on a highly-secretive set of policies it says are designed to defend the U.S. from cyber attacks. The core program revolves around a “Cyber Shield” that would allow the Department of Homeland Security to dig into all internet communications .
DHS’s top cybersecurity official has revealed to CNET  that the department may eventually extend its Einstein technology, originally created for federal networks, to non-government infrastructure. It has emerged that the NSA is intimately involved with the program.
All of these moves in the U.S. are being mirrored  in the Australia, the U.K. and the rest of Europe.
Meanwhile, if you’re wondering where the funding for such programs is going to come from, Microsoft executive Scott Charney has a suggestion  for you:
“You could say it’s a public safety issue and do it with general taxation,” Charney noted at security conference in San Francisco earlier this week. That’s right, a tax on the internet to go with total restriction and NSA monitoring.
If we do not act now to educate more people about the ongoing attack on the free and open internet, and how we can act to protect it by blocking restrictive legislation and programs, we may soon find ourselves referring to a “post i-9/11 society”.