Friday, 18 June 2010

Liberman begins his assault on the internet

It seems that only the other day I was pointing out how scary the world must seem to politicians as they watch their power slip away in the face on an increasingly activist and complex internet. And, as if to prove the point, the world has delivered a perfect example of the sort of outrageous response this fear and lack of comprehension can cause.

It comes in the form of Joe Lieberman, a man with virtually no redeeming features, let alone the barest glimpse of integrity or intellect.

Mr Lieberman has decided to use the opportunity provided by recent the Wikileaks scandal to introduce a Bill, aimed at defeating 'cybercrime'.

At the core of this Bill is the ability of the President to declare a 'national cyberemergency', which will force companies to undertake action to combat the threat. If that wasnt worrying enough, the highest level could force companies to shut down sections of the internet.

Yes, thats right, there is a Bill, in the country which spawned the internet, which will allow the President to shut it down.

Never mind that the internet has been an unprecidented force for good. Never mind that the entire economy of the USA depends on its existence. And least of all, let us not forget, that in reality there has never been any cyber attack which would justify this sort of response.

In a world where British and US service people die every day from attacks using assault weapons, the most pressing concern on Lieberman's mind is how to protect the American people from cyber attacks which havent happened, which arent happening, and which show no signs of being on the horizon.

There are no words to easily convey the true horror of this piece of legislation. It represents the true lack of understanding that most policy makers suffer from. Rather than putting the problems in context, and working out how to solve them, a decision will be rushed into, which serves no ones interests, with no understanding of the consequences.

The media will be complicit in this, since they too have no real understanding of how the internet works, or what the implications will be of this Bill. I imagine some outlets will even support its passage. They are misguided fools.

I worry that this Bill may well become a framework on which future UK legislation will be founded. It wouldnt be the first time.

This generation of politicians are staggering in their ineptitude. They stand on the shore of an impossibly large ocean, filled with beauty, marvel and not a little horror, dipping a toe in occasionally before withdrawing it, believing that it is the shore that matters, which needs protecting. So they look to turn back the tide.

The modern day Canutes are far less wise than the Viking, they would do well to remember his words upon failing to push back the waters: "Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings"
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