Attempting to reassure CNN viewers that the government isn’t trying to shut down free speech on web, Senator only stokes more alarm by citing country that censors all online dissent
Paul Joseph Watson
Monday, June 21, 2010
Senator Joe Lieberman, co-author of a bill that would give President Obama a ‘kill switch’ to shut down parts of the Internet, attempted to reassure CNN viewers yesterday that concerns about the government regulating free speech on the web were overblown, but he only stoked more alarm by citing China, a country that censors all online dissent against the state, as the model to which American should compare itself.
During an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union with Candy Crowley, Lieberman characterized concerns that his 197-page Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act (PDF) legislation represents an attempt to hand Obama “absolute power” over the Internet as “total misinformation,” adding that people were “intentionally peddling misinformation”.
Lieberman again invoked “cybersecurity” as the motivation behind the bill and tried to assuage the worries of critics. “So I say to my friends on the Internet, relax. Take a look at the bill. And this is something that we need to protect our country,” said the Senator.
However, Lieberman’s choice of comparison in justifying the necessity of the bill will only serve to heighten concerns that the government is going after free speech.
“Right now China, the government, can disconnect parts of its Internet in case of war and we need to have that here too,” said Lieberman.
The Senator’s reference to China is a telling revelation of what the cybersecurity agenda is really all about. China’s vice-like grip over its Internet systems has very little to do with “war” and everything to do with silencing all dissent against the state.
Chinese Internet censorship is imposed via a centralized government blacklist of any websites that contain criticism of the state, porn, or any other content deemed unsuitable by the authorities. Every time you attempt to visit a website, you are re-routed through the government firewall, often making for long delays and crippling speeds.
China has exercised its power to shut down the Internet, something that Lieberman wants to introduce in the U.S., at politically sensitive times in order to stem the flow of information about government abuse and atrocities. During the anti-government riots which occurred in July 2009, the Chinese government completely shut down the Internet across the entire northwestern region of Xinjiang for days. Similarly, Internet access in parts of Tibet is routinely restricted as part of government efforts to pre-empt and neutralize unrest.
Major websites like Twitter, Google and You Tube have also been shut down either temporarily or permanently by Chinese authorities.
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News websites in China now require users to register their true identities in order to leave comments. This abolition of anonymity is used to chill free speech in that it prevents the user from engaging in criticism of the state for fear that they would be tracked down by authorities.
Chinese authorities are now going further than merely maintaining a “blacklist” of banned websites by instituting a “whitelist” of allowed websites, a move that “could potentially place much of the Internet off-limits to Chinese readers”. Websites not pre-registered with the government would be completely blocked to all Internet users, meaning “millions of completely innocuous sites” would be banned. This equates to requiring government approval to set up a website, which would obviously not be granted if the person or organization making the application has a history of or is likely to engage in dissent against the state.
President Obama himself has criticized Chinese Internet censorship as a hindrance to the free flow of information and allowing citizens to hold their governments accountable, and yet Lieberman wants to hand Obama similar powers.
Given the nature of Chinese Internet regulation, with has nothing to do with “war” as Lieberman claims and everything to do with political censorship and covering up information about state oppression, we should be alarmed that the Senator wants to see America move in the same direction.
The real agenda behind government control of the Internet has always been to strangle and suffocate independent media outlets who are now competing with and even displacing establishment press organs, with websites like the Drudge Report now attracting more traffic than many large newspapers combined. As part of this war against independent media, the FTC recently proposing a “Drudge Tax” that would force independent media organizations to pay fees that would be used to fund mainstream newspapers.
In addition, the FCC has rolled a censorship plan into its Net Neutrality scheme in a stealth attempt to impose Internet regulation.
Under the FCC’s regulatory control consumers would be forced to buy an Internet/TV/Phone connectivity box that the government approves. “Everyone will pay rates for service that the government sets. And everything passing through your Internet, TV, or phone would become subject to the FCC’s consistent regulatory whim,” writes Americans for Tax Reform’s Kelly William Cobb.
Similar legislation aimed at imposing Chinese-style censorship of the Internet and giving the state the power to shut down networks has already been passed globally, including in the UK, New Zealand and Australia.
We have extensively covered efforts to scrap the internet as we know it and move toward a greatly restricted “internet 2″ system. Handing government the power to control the Internet would only be the first step towards this system, whereby individual ID’s and government permission would be required simply to operate a website.
Lieberman’s argument that the U.S. government should be handed the same power to regulate the Internet currently exercised by Chinese authorities only serves to confirm that the true agenda behind the Obama ‘kill switch’ legislation is to launch a war, not against foreign hackers, but against the free speech of the American people.
Watch the CNN clip below.