The US Senate have developed and drafted a new Cybersecurity Bill after the highly controversial SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act) Bills where blown out of the water with fierce debate from the tech communities the globe over. However, is this just an underhand way of the Senate and powers that be, to eventually manipulate the Bill to represent the original format or have they really listened to the people and decided to do something very un-politician like; concede and admit defeat.
During the later half of January this year (2012), the US Senate tried to introduce two new Bills, SOPA and PIPA, which at the time where extremely well debated and talked about, not just across the Web, but on all media and press platforms. Due to the repugnant nature of the Bills, on the 18th of January 2012, a plethora of web sites, and not just tech related, protested the possible outcome of the Bills with a one day internet service blackout. This involved sites who participated closing down and replacing their home page with a splash screen informing potential viewers about the terribleness that could come about from SOPA and PIPA. Google reported that they obtained over 7 Million signatures against the Bills, Wikipedia claimed over 160 million people seen their banner protesting against the Bills and many companies supporting the Bills where boycotted.
Needless to say on this occasion, the voice of the people and the internet won the day. The Senate had no choice but to stop the passing of SOPA and PIPA. Probably the most repugnant proposal surrounding SOPA (Stop Internet Piracy Act) was the power given to the President of the United States, whereby he could under certain circumstances completely close down the Internet. At the time it was referred to as “The Internet Kill Switch”. As many peopled quite rightly wrote, the Internet is one of the very few remaining platforms where anyone of us, can have a voice and be heard by millions globally.
The Senate have now come forward, after admitting defeat, and introduced a revised version of the previous Bills only this time there has been no mention of anything resembling an Internet Kill Switch. However to pass a Bill is one thing, all aspects of the Bill have to be pretty transparent and open to quite a lot of government and public scrutiny, but to amend a Bill is quite another matter. If the Senate pass the new Cybersecurity Bill in it’s present form and it has been subjected to all the usual scrutiny, just how easily and relatively privately could they amend the Bill, thus adding features such as the Internet Kill Switch. Not too many people would know anything about it until one day you went to log onto the internet and it was down, curtesy of “Big Brother”. By which time it was far too late to do anything about it, such as legally protest.
I am in no way shape or form a politician and have no idea one way or the other if they could in fact amend a Bill in such a manor, but do we trust our politicians to behave appropriately, especially those who originally where very much in favour of SOPA and PIPA; Senator Joe Lieberman and Sen. Susan Collins. One thing we do know and that is politicians do not normally accept defeat graciously.
As I mentioned when I wrote about SOPA and PIPA, as an ex military personnel, I am all for National Security and protection against the enemies of our great nations, but does this has to be carried out by treating all of us like prisoners. There is no doubt that bodies entrusted with the security of our countries have an incredibly difficult job to do, a job where they walk a very thin line with no room for mistakes. A thin line between protecting the population and treating them as criminals for the good of their own protection.
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