Americans are likely going to see the Federal government take greater control over the Internet in the near future if the increasingly frequent “wolf” cries from officials about the threat of a cyberattack are any indicator.
On Oct. 15, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the United States faces a “Cyber-Pearl Harbor” which could cripple the Nation’s vital infrastructure during a speech to a number of national security experts in New York. He said that America is in a pre-9/11 moment and could implement the security measures now to avoid a cyber-catastrophe that could potentially shut down technology across the country.
Halfway through last week, minor cyber-attacks on Capital One Financial Corp. and BB&T Corp. temporarily prevented some customers of the companies to view personal banking information. U.S. officials promptly blamed the attacks on Iranian government-backed groups.
With all of the talk about cyberspying and cyberattacks against the United States, government is undoubtedly gearing up to implement a series of controls on the Internet by Presidential fiat to expand its control.
Unfortunately for American Internet users, the controls will likely be the online equivalent of the civil liberties-destroying policies put in place via the Patriot Act and the Department of Homeland Security following 9/11.
The U.S. government, to the dismay of many Internet freedom advocates, has already been involved in the seizure of domain names and entire websites, claiming copyright laws had been violated. And in San Francisco last year, officials suspended cellphone and social network access to pre-empt a protest of police brutality. Occupy Wall Street protestors also had their Twitter accounts hacked so that government officials could learn more about that protest movement.
When Congress attempted to pass laws earlier in the year — the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA), tha Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), and Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act (PROTECT IP) — to gain more government control over the Internet, public outcry quashed the initiatives. More talk from the Department of Defense about Internet security means that the President may soon pass a similar measure with no way for the public to stop it.