Posted by: ethosworld | July 20, 2010

Do We Have ‘The Ministry Of Truth’ In place?

 The ‘ministry of truth’ is now in place just like George Orwell described in his novel 1984.  In 1984, George Orwell described the mechanism used by the government to control information, and today we have ‘Protecting Cyberspace As A National Asset Act 2010’.  In an article date 28/08/2009 on it is said to be Sen Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia democrat who spent months behind closed doors drafting the bill.  The bill was introduced early June 2010 by Sen. Joe Lieberman who has obviously refuted rumors that the bill gives President Obama an ‘Internet Kill Switch’ but also claimed that the president has already got the power through ‘The Communication Act 1934’.  The act allows the president to shut down ‘any facilities or stations for wire communications’ for up to six months, if there is a threat of war and it is deemed necessary.  In most countries in Europe, the governments have been rocked by the power of the Internet and they have been seeking to gain control of it so that they can have a virtual monopoly on the information that the public is able to access. 

One thing that the Internet was great at was the ability to remain anonymous, but that is slowly being modified and it has gone as far asin some Internet Cafe’s in the European Union, you are now legally required to present a government issued form of identification..  Philip M. Giraldi an ex CIA counter-terrorism specialist wrote in his article titled Obama’s War on the Internet,  ”When I used an internet connection at a Venice hotel, my passport was demanded as a precondition and the inner page, containing all my personal information, was scanned and a copy made for the Ministry of the Interior — which controls the police force. The copy is retained and linked to the transaction. For home computers, the IP address of the service used is similarly recorded for identification purposes. All records of each and every internet usage, to include credit information and keystrokes that register everything that is written or sent, is accessible to the government authorities on demand, not through the action of a court or an independent authority.”  What that means is there is no right to privacy and the government decides what can and cannot be reviewed by the authorities.  Giraldi goes on to say ” the records are maintained for a period of six months but there is a drive to make the retention period even longer”.

So what is the bill and how is it that with billions of users on the Internet, the bill was passed without much a-do?

For now, many people have no idea what the bill is about and only become aware of it once it is referred to as the Obama Internet Kill Switch which immediately draws to mind a picture of President Obama standing next to a big red switch with the label reading Switch Internet Off!  The bill allows the White House to establish an office for cybersecurity and communications, which will work with private US companies to create cybersecurity requirements for the electrical grid, telecommunications networks and other critical infrastructure.  Furthermore, the bill will allow the US president to take emergency actions to protect critical parts of the Internet including ordering owners of critical infrastructure to implement emergency response plans, during a cyber-emergency.   Search engines such as Google and Yahoo will be ordered to suspend access to their websites in times of national emergency and other US-based Internet service providers as well as broadband providers would also come under his control in times of a ‘cybersecurity emergency.’  And of course any company that failed to comply would be subject to huge fines.

Critics of the new law said that it would be an abuse of power to let the White House control the internet and TechAmerica, one of the largest U.S. technology lobby groups, has also said the new law had the ‘potential  for absolute power.’  The controversy surrounding the new law is that it  teeters between Internet freedom or privacy, and this has been the balancing act that challenges those concerned with securing the Internet.  What worries most critics is that depending on how you read the bill, it can be construed as giving the President the sweeping authority to seize control of any computer in the United States.  But what exactly, constitutes a “critical” network? That’s anybody guess and the bill gives  the President the sole discretion to define “critical information systems” and the bill does not provide for an independent review procedure.

Why Now For The Bill

The government’s increasing interest in the Internet is apparently justified because of the anonymity it offers users, and because it has permitted criminal behaviour, child pornography, fraud etc. The fact that terrorists log on like the rest of us creates a security risk and this bill is therefore part of the ”global war on terror,”  hence the government’s need to control who uses it.  But what’s really interesting about this bill is the fact that the government has gone as far as saying that the Internet is a ”vulnerable resource” that could be seized or damaged by terrorists so it must be protected.  Sen Joe Lieberman is quoted saying  “It is a clear and present danger. This legislation would fundamentally reshape the way the federal government defends America’s cyberspace. It takes a comprehensive, risk-based, and collaborative approach to addressing critical vulnerabilities in our own defenses.  We believe our bill would go a long way toward improving the security of our government and private critical infrastructure, and therefore the security of the American people.”

Looking at the government’s reasons I agree that some elements have to be controlled but at the same time, the reasons are being exploited because they are all in favour of state control. What is at risk here is the fact that the Internet, with it’s low-cost nature, can be used to express views that are not popular, allowing individuals to self publish in real time on a global scale. That is the Internet’s best asset.  Let’s be honest here: yes, it is used for criminal activities but that’s because it is there NOT because it is special and if we are being honest, before the days of the Internet fraud was committed through postage and credit cards. And porn? Well, that has always been available and as for the security reasons… terrorists use the Internet because it is available to them and if that privilege was to be removed they would find other ways of sending out their messages, just as they did before the advent of the Internet.

The Real Reason Of Controlling The Internet

With the Internet, information is freely available, which some states and governments regard as a threat, so they seek to restrict access to latest news and information. It is not just America which wants to monitor the Internet, many other countries like China, Iran, Cuba are already monitoring and censoring the Internet on a daily basis, forbidding access to numerous sites that they consider to be subversive or immoral.  Which makes me ask: could that happen here?

This bill is just a stepping stone to a larger, more unhealthy goal of controlling free speech, as at this very moment laws are being passed that criminalize you for expressing your views on the Internet. This includes anything from “hate crime” legislation and broadly drafted laws that will make it a crime to support what the government describes loosely as terrorism in any way shape or form. This is just another example of the intrusion into our private lives and the erosion of civil liberties which some governments have already made a reality. Governments’ ability to tap phones, invade computers and intercept communications has been building up to a full dominance of the Internet.

The risks are real, and globally people who are critical of their governments depend on the Internet for information which is sometimes provocative and un-censored. Sites such as campaign for liberty and bloggers provide a grass roots perspective akin to normal journalism. It was reported a couple of weeks ago that the wordpress host Blogetery was shut down by US authorities along with ALL Blogetery-hosted blogs.  A couple of days ago The Obama Deception was deleted from YouTube.  Although the video is now back on YouTube, read that story at

 More and more sites are being hacked, blogs deleted.  How much more can we tolerate? What was noticeable about this bill was that not much ado was created when reports of the bill first surfaced.  I know we  care more than that so I wonder: were we distracted by the BP mess to actually notice what else was going on?

An extract from the bill


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