Monday, September 14, 2009

Should The President Be Able To Shut Off The Internet?

Tags: politics

A few weeks ago, details surfaced of a new bill that could hand the president of the United States the power to basically disconnect computers from the internet for emergency reasons.

While the bill isn't quite completed and the details remain vague, many Web outlets have been in an uproar - fearing the expansion of governmental control of the internet. Unlike most other bloggers and internet news reporters, I'm actually quite comfortable with the president having emergency power over the internet. Sure, such power could be abused and there's always the "slippery slope" argument, but people need to realize the president already has similar power in other areas of our life and that power is there for a reason.

Before I go one, let me assure you that I am generally for a smaller government that has less power and control. My feelings are that the government should exist soley to protect us and to keep things running smoothly while interfering as little as possible. With that said, I don't mind the president having the ability to turn off parts of the internet if it's deemed an emergency and a security risk.

Blasphemy! I'm sure many of you are screaming right now. But before you grab your pitchforks, imagine if the country really was under a "cyber" attack. If there were some computers on the internet that were trying to disrupt the rest of the Web, shouldn't the government have the ability to do something about it? What if we were at war and some of the networks vital to communication were compromised? Shouldn't somebody step in and cut off the infected areas?

Now, I know a big concern is that the government might abuse the power to control the internet. I think many fear something along the lines of China's internet restrictions may eventually creep into United States' policies, but that fear is pretty absurd in my opinion. I'd like to think U.S. citizens would never stand for a government that oppressed free speech or difference of opinions on the internet. If we ever get a president so bold as to think he or she can control the internet for any reason other than real safety concerns, I'm going to guess there'd be more than a few unhappy voters that'll make sure such actions don't last long.

Let me end by reminding people that similar action has been taken in the past with air travel. After the 9/11 attacks, Bush halted air travel. I'm guessing most people agree that was the appropriate action to take. So how is shutting down parts of the internet any different?


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