As Egypt’s government attempts to crackdown on street protests by shutting down internet and mobile phone services, the government of the United States — supposedly “the beacon of democracy” for the world — is preparing to reintroduce a bill that could be used to shut down the Internet.
The bill, granting Obama or any POTUS broad emergency powers to seize control of and even shut down the Internet in times of “national emergency,” initially was introduced last year but had expired with a new Congress. Wired.com reports that the bill will soon be reintroduced to a Senate committee.
The proposed legislation was introduced into the US Senate by Demonrat-turned-“independent” Senator Joe Lieberman, who is chairman of the US Homeland Security committee and who recently announced he will not seek reëlection. (Good riddance)
Last year, Lieberman argued the bill was necessary to “preserve those networks and assets and our country and protect our people” because, for all its allure, the net could be a “dangerous place with electronic pipelines that run directly into everything from our personal bank accounts to key infrastructure to government and industrial secrets”. This meant that US economic security, national security and public safety were now all at risk from new kinds of enemies, including “cyber warriors, cyber spies, cyber terrorists and cyber criminals”.
RINO Senator Susan Collins (Maine), a co-sponsor of the bill, said that unlike in Egypt, where the government was using its powers to quell dissent by shutting down the internet, her and Lieberman’s bill would not. “My legislation would provide a mechanism for the government to work with the private sector in the event of a true cyber emergency,” Collins said in an emailed statement to Wired. “It would give our nation the best tools available to swiftly respond to a significant threat.” Blah, blah, blah….
The shutdown in Egypt is the most comprehensive official electronic blackout of its kind. According to Renesys, a US Internet monitoring company, Egypt’s four main internet service providers cut off international access to their customers in a near simultaneous move at 2234 GMT on Thursday. Around 23 million Egyptians have either regular or occasional access to the internet, according to official figures, more than a quarter of the population.
The scale of Egypt’s crackdown on the internet and mobile phones amid deadly protests against the rule of President Hosni Mubarak is unprecedented in the history of the web, experts have said. “It’s a first in the history of the internet,” Rik Ferguson, an expert for Trend Micro, the world’s third biggest computer security firm, said. Julien Coulon, co-founder of Cedexis, a French internet performance monitoring and traffic management system, added: “In 24 hours we have lost 97 per cent of Egyptian internet traffic”.
Despite this, many Egyptians are finding ways to get access, some using international telephone numbers to gain access to dial-up internet.
Mobile telephone networks were also severely disrupted in the country on Friday. Phone signals were patchy and text messages inoperative. British-based Vodafone said all mobile operators in Egypt had been “instructed” Friday to suspend services in some areas amid spiralling unrest, adding that under Egyptian law it was “obliged” to comply with the order.
Egypt – like Tunisia where mass popular unrest drove out Zine El Abidine Ben Ali earlier this month – is on a list of 13 countries classed as “enemies of the internet” by media rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
Condemnation of Egypt’s internet crackdown has been widespread. Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on Cairo to restore the internet and social networking sites. Facebook, the world’s largest social network with nearly 600 million members, and Twitter also weighed in. Twitter, which has more than 175 million registered users, said of efforts to block the service in Egypt: “We believe that the open exchange of info & views benefits societies & helps govts better connect w/ their people.”
US digital rights groups also criticised the Egyptian government. “This action is inconsistent with all international human rights norms, and is unprecedented in internet history,” said Leslie Harris, president of the Center for Democracy and Technology in the United States.
[Source: Ben Grubb and Asher Moses, “As Egypt goes offline US gets internet ‘kill switch’ bill ready,” Australia’s TheAge.com, January 31, 2011]
So should the Internet kill bill actually gets passed by Congress and Obama shuts down the net, does this mean we’ll just take it lying down?
Hell no! We’re Americans, the biological and spiritual sons and daughters of Revolutionaries!
OpenMesh.com has a list of open-source ad-hoc network and routing protocols/platforms that will provide local information during an Internet kill switch. Print the following list and keep it handy!
- B.A.T.M.A.N: http://www.open-mesh.org/
- Roofnet: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roofnet
- GNUnet: https://gnunet.org/
- Netsukuku: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Netsukuku
- Open Mesh Project: http://www.openmeshproject.org/
- OLPC Mesh Network: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Mesh_Network_Details
- Open source BGP: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Border_Gateway_Protocol
- Digitatas: https://sites.google.com/a/opensailing.net/digitata/
- sMesh: http://www.smesh.org/
- Coova: http://coova.org/
- Babel: http://www.pps.jussieu.fr/~jch/software/babel/
- SolarMESH: http://owl.eng.mcmaster.ca/~todd/SolarMESH/
- WINGproject: http://www.wing-project.org/
- Wiki list of mesh protocols: Wikimedia list of ad-hoc mesh protocols and packet routing
- Even bigger list of ad-hoc routing protocols: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hoc_routing_protocol_list
- Commercial projects:
- Basic explanation – how this stuff works:
- Example of a working grassroots wireless community: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athens_Wireless_Metropolitan_Network
We Americans will resist and fight tyranny till our dying breath. It’s in our DNA!
H/t beloved fellows Tina, May, Joseph.