The tweets still fly and the videos hit YouTube whenever protesters take to the streets in Iran — even as the Internet battle there turns more grueling. Authorities appear to be intensifying their campaign to block Web sites and chase down the opposition online, and the activists search for new ways to elude them.
Sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube remain blocked, as they have been since Iran's political turmoil began following the disputed June 12 presidential election. Internet experts believe the government is going further — including tracking down computers from which images and videos of Iran's protests are sent out to the rest of the world. Activists fear their every move online is watched.
A Senate bill would offer President Obama emergency control of the Internet and may give him a "kill switch" to shut down online traffic by seizing private networks -- a move cybersecurity experts worry will choke off industry and civil liberties.
Details of a revamped version of the Cybersecurity Act of 2009 emerged late Thursday, months after an initial version authored by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V., was blasted in Silicon Valley as dangerous government intrusion.
"In the original bill they empowered the president to essentially turn off the Internet in the case of a 'cyber-emergency,' which they didn't define," said Larry Clinton, president of the Internet Security Alliance, which represents the telecommunications industry.
In Iraq, all official (unit headquarters and the Morale, Welfare and Recreation) and private (private contractors or individuals with a satellite dish) could be shut down by the base commander with the flick of a switch. The only time that happened was when a soldier or Marine had been wounded or killed, so that the military could notify the family before they heard it second hand. We called it 'river city', and I don't know if I ever heard the reason for that particular name. Probably a random code word.
But this proposal would let the government shut down the most prevalent source of information that America has, and do so for whatever reasons that it deems to be important. The question that I am dying to know, is what crisis would be so dire as to need to shut down the internet. Computer virus? Hacker attack? What possible circumstance could there be that would be best served by just shutting it off, rather than letting Americans work towards fighting back?
Is it even constitutional? Doesn't shutting down the internet get in the way of that little thing called freedom of the press?
Is it any shock that the details of this emerge on a Friday, when it will likely be lost in the weekend clutter?
Last question. Will the ACLU protest this like they protested the Patriot Act? I wont hold my breath.