Gargantuan move against Internet freedom accelerates into high gear
Paul Joseph Watson & Alex Jones
Monday, June 28, 2010
The move to shut down and regulate the Internet under a new government-controlled system has accelerated into high gear with the announcement that the government’s cybersecurity strategy revolves around issuing Internet users with ID “tokens” without which they will not be able to visit websites, the latest salvo against web freedom which, in combination with Senator Joe Lieberman’s ‘kill switch’ bill, will serve to eviscerate the free Internet as we know it.
Under the guise of “cybersecurity,” the government is moving to discredit and shut down the existing Internet infrastructure in the pursuit of a new, centralized, regulated world wide web.
It is important to stress that “cybersecurity” has nothing to do with protecting the infrastructure of the United States and everything to do with taking over the Internet. Cybersecurity is about attacking non-compliant Internet users, not defending against hackers. Non-compliance equates as using the Internet as a political tool to dissent against the policies of the U.S. government. Having already tried and failed in flooding the web with paid disinformation agents, the government is now turning to its only recourse, exploiting hyped or outright staged cyberattacks as an excuse through which to implement an Internet 2 system controlled and regulated solely by the authorities.
We are constantly told that the Internet needs to be subject to government control because cyberterrorists could hack in and bring down the national power grid. However, the vast majority of the U.S. power infrastructure is not connected to the Internet. It will only be connected to the Internet if the government accelerates the implementation of “smart grid” technology, so in this sense, the government itself is leaving the power grid more vulnerable to hackers by its own programs.
Threats against computer networks in the United States are grossly exaggerated. Dire reports issued by the Defense Science Board and the Center for Strategic and International Studies “are usually richer in vivid metaphor — with fears of ‘digital Pearl Harbors’ and ‘cyber-Katrinas’ — than in factual foundation,” writes Evgeny Morozov, a Belarus-born researcher and blogger who writes on the political effects of the internet.
Morozov notes that much of the data on the supposed cyber threat “are gathered by ultra-secretive government agencies — which need to justify their own existence — and cyber-security companies — which derive commercial benefits from popular anxiety.”
Should the government go ahead and try to exercise the powers it is now on the verge of acquiring, we’d expect to see the Internet shut down for a few days in order to prevent some kind of contrived cyberattack blamed on terrorists. Sure, there will be problems, but large corporations will raise little dissent safe in the knowledge that the Lieberman legislation gives them immunity from civil lawsuits and also ensures they are reimbursed for any costs incurred if the Internet is shut down for a period of time.
After a series of shutdowns, the government will simply demand that every corporation or individual who wants to operate a website first obtain a license and an individual Internet ID. Such licenses will be revoked for anyone who engages in “hate speech,” which is now so broad a term that it encompasses offending anyone on the Internet.
The result will be a sterile and regulated Internet which more closely resembles cable TV than the true open source, outpost of free speech that we have come to know and love.
This exact strategy was outlined in a paper published by Obama’s cybersecurity co-ordinator Howard Schmidt, which was compiled with the aid of the National Security Council.
The strategy revolves around, “The creation of a system for identity management that would allow citizens to use additional authentication techniques, such as physical tokens or modules on mobile phones, to verify who they are before buying things online or accessing such sensitive information as health or banking records,” reports the FInancial Times.
Only with this government-issued “token” will Internet users be allowed to “able to move from website to website,” a system not too far removed from what China proposed and rejected for being too authoritarian.
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It is imperative that everyone redouble their efforts to bring attention to this matter because Lieberman’s bill is on the verge of passing the Senate and it will hand the government total control over the Internet unless we can alert enough organizations from across the political spectrum to oppose this monstrosity in unison.
The true nature of the cybersecurity agenda was revealed when Lieberman told CNN’s Candy Crowley that his 197-page Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act (PDF) legislation was part of an effort to mimic China’s control of the Internet.
“Right now China, the government, can disconnect parts of its Internet in case of war and we need to have that here too,” said Lieberman.
The Senator’s reference to China is a telling revelation of what the cybersecurity agenda is really all about. China’s vice-like grip over its Internet systems has very little to do with “war” and everything to do with silencing all dissent against the state.
Chinese Internet censorship is imposed via a centralized government blacklist of any websites that contain criticism of the state, porn, or any other content deemed unsuitable by the authorities. Every time you attempt to visit a website, you are re-routed through the government firewall, often making for long delays and crippling speeds.
China has exercised its power to shut down the Internet, something that Lieberman wants to introduce in the U.S., at politically sensitive times in order to stem the flow of information about government abuse and atrocities. During the anti-government riots which occurred in July 2009, the Chinese government completely shut down the Internet across the entire northwestern region of Xinjiang for days. Similarly, Internet access in parts of Tibet is routinely restricted as part of government efforts to pre-empt and neutralize unrest.
Major websites like Twitter, Google and You Tube have also been shut down either temporarily or permanently by Chinese authorities.
News websites in China now require users to register their true identities in order to leave comments. This abolition of anonymity is used to chill free speech in that it prevents the user from engaging in criticism of the state for fear that they would be tracked down by authorities.
Chinese authorities are now going further than merely maintaining a “blacklist” of banned websites by instituting a “whitelist” of allowed websites, a move that “could potentially place much of the Internet off-limits to Chinese readers”. Websites not pre-registered with the government would be completely blocked to all Internet users, meaning “millions of completely innocuous sites” would be banned. This equates to requiring government approval to set up a website, which would obviously not be granted if the person or organization making the application has a history of or is likely to engage in dissent against the state.
President Obama himself has criticized Chinese Internet censorship as a hindrance to the free flow of information and allowing citizens to hold their governments accountable, and yet Lieberman wants to hand Obama similar powers.
Given the nature of Chinese Internet regulation, with has nothing to do with “war” as Lieberman claims and everything to do with political censorship and covering up information about state oppression, we should be alarmed that the Senator wants to see America move in the same direction.
The real agenda behind government control of the Internet has always been to strangle and suffocate independent media outlets who are now competing with and even displacing establishment press organs, with websites like the Drudge Report now attracting more traffic than many large newspapers combined. As part of this war against independent media, the FTC recently proposing a “Drudge Tax” that would force independent media organizations to pay fees that would be used to fund mainstream newspapers.
In addition, the FCC has rolled a censorship plan into its Net Neutrality scheme in a stealth attempt to impose Internet regulation.
Under the FCC’s regulatory control consumers would be forced to buy an Internet/TV/Phone connectivity box that the government approves. “Everyone will pay rates for service that the government sets. And everything passing through your Internet, TV, or phone would become subject to the FCC’s consistent regulatory whim,” writes Americans for Tax Reform’s Kelly William Cobb.
Similar legislation aimed at imposing Chinese-style censorship of the Internet and giving the state the power to shut down networks has already been passed globally, including in the UK, New Zealand and Australia.
We have extensively covered efforts to scrap the internet as we know it and move toward a greatly restricted “internet 2” system. Handing government the power to control the Internet would only be the first step towards this system, whereby individual ID’s and government permission would be required simply to operate a website, and this is precisely what the National Security Council has proposed for the new cybersecurity measures that are set to be implemented over the next few years.
This article was posted: Monday, June 28, 2010 at 10:28 am