The Egyptian government has effectively turned off the Internet, shutting down free speech and the right to peacefully organize inside the country. Meanwhile, two leading Senators are re-introducing a bill, rejected last term, that would give President Obama the same unlimited power to shut down free speech in the U.S. on this and any other website, just by pulling the Internet plug. Moreover, if the new bill is identical to the bill considered last year, it will abridge our 7th Amendment right to hold cable, telecom, and internet services companies liable for mishandling the Internet, including, for example, allowing federal snooping into our private lives.
That bill provided extensive and unprecedented federal immunity that would override state law and protect those companies when they certify in writing that they have done complied with government-issued standards for cybersecurity. There is no basis for providing immunity from responsibility to owners and operators of critical cyber infrastructure, simply because they comply with federal legal requirements, and there's no logic to allowing companies to immunize their conduct through a process of self-certification. Recent events such as the Wall Street meltdown and the BP Gulf oilspill make clear that establishing federal liability limits in advance promotes a culture of non-compliance with law and encourages industry to take risks with the lives and property of U.S. citizens.
Today, Tea Party Nation, one of the leading umbrella groups of Tea Party activists in the country, and other conservative groups issued a strong condemnation of the bill and urged Congress to reject it" (registration required). They wrote, "Our First Amendment rights are too valuable to allow a national leader to repeal on because they are offended by political speech or news, Our founding fathers knew to limit the power given a leader who would be angered because that political speech or news was a threat to them. This bill gives too much unfettered power to one person. This is something our founding fathers feared. To our elected Senators, we say, 'Kill this bill!'"
I agree and hope our readers will tell Congress to stop this bill.