We are seeing in Egypt the government’s attempt to silence the people during the current unrest by shutting down access to the Internet; cellular connections; and, most recently, access to the Al-Jezeera news network. In the United States, we are proud of our freedom of speech, granted to us by the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights. In the unthinkable event that we, the United States, experienced such turmoil, we would still have our Internet, iPhones, and CNN, right? American senators have introduced legislation that would give the president a “kill switch” power in the event of a cyber-attack or any other threat the government deems a national security issue. This, of course, is to “protect” the people.
In Egypt, is this shut down of electronic information and communication helping the citizens in this time of crisis? I believe not. It is a feeble attempt by a government that is rapidly deteriorating to hold onto every last bit of power that it can. I believe it was thought that if they could massively limit the flow of communication and information in, out, and through the country, they could somehow remain in power.
Could this same scenario happen in the United States? The truth is yes. We trust in our elected leaders to do as they promise. We trust in them to follow the same laws they set forth. We are a nation that runs itself through the democratic process. This does not mean those in power would not do what it takes to preserve their own power and/or interests in the event of a national emergency. While we do live in a country where a mother in a family of four on vacation to Disney World must be “double-checked” to ensure she is not a terrorist threat, none of our other personal freedoms will ever be compromised, right?
I do get the point that a large-scale cyber-attack would be a very bad thing. These attacks are usually on corporations and focused on corporations. If in the rare instance there were a hack on the power-grid, would cutting all forms of communication in and out of the country be the way to stop it? I don’t buy it. If Congress were to pass this legislation, we are saying it is okay to limit our freedoms further based upon what our government deems as a threat to national security. In the event of a similar situation in the United States that Egypt is facing, I would really like to call friends and family across the country and see if they are okay.
Networkworld.com: Internet ‘kill switch’ bill reintroduced as Egypt remains dark