Despite reports to the contrary, congress has no interest in introducing an Internet kill-switch bill.
Members of the United States Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee recently defended their cyber security bill saying it didn't promote the notion of a kill-switch. Instead, the congressmen say their bill intends on securing the nation's most sensitive information.
The idea of a kill-switch came to light after former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak showed off his ability to shut down the country's internet infrastructure. His government essentially told all service providers to shut off internet access to Egypt. The kill-switch demonstrated how some governments could effectively shut down the internet if they pleased, without much trouble.
The incident in Egypt got people in America wondering if a kill switch could happen domestically. While experts said no, some questioned a recent bill called the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act from the United States Homeland Security and Government Affairs committee. The act allegedly would allow the President to disconnect the U.S. in case of an emergency decree.
However, members of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs committee are now speaking out, saying a kill-switch is not in the works. The committee even revised the bill to put explicit language it in prohibiting the President, or any government official, from having that authority.
We want to clear the air once and for all. As someone said recently, the term 'kill switch has become the 'death panels' of the cybersecurity debate. There is no so-called 'kill switch' in our legislation because the very notion is antithetical to our goal of providing precise and targeted authorities to the President, Lieberman recently said in a statement.
Instead, Lieberman says the bill is meant to improve security through the creation of a national center to prevent and respond to cyber attacks. It would require critical infrastructure owners to shore up vulnerabilities and establish a secure federal IT supply chain.
This legislation applies to the most critical infrastructures that Americans rely on in their daily lives - energy transmission, water supply, financial services, for example - to ensure that those assets are protected in case of a potentially crippling cyber attack, Liberman said.
Susan Collins (R-ME) said cost of cyber crime worldwide has climbed to more than $1 trillion globally.The threat of a catastrophic cyber attack is real. Attacks are happening now. In March 2010, the Senate's Sergeant at Arms reported that the computer systems of the Executive Branch agencies and the Congress are now under cyber attack an average of 1.8 billion times per month, she stated.
Lieberman said that a kill-switch would be impossible, effectively backing up what experts have said in the past. It's effectively impossible in the U.S., said Patrick Gilmore, chief network architect at Akamai. It would take hundreds of millions of dollars to implement.
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