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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Pandora’s Box - New US Cyber Security Bills Create a Worm Hole in the Internet Galaxy

There are two Bills that are floating through the corridors of power on the Hill that could potentially change the course of civil and political rights within the United States and the world. The two Bills touch on a common thread that are premised on “national security” however there are interesting challenges that will surface should the Bills be passed that affect global public interest that require further examination, introspection and discussion.

US Representatives Mike Rogers (R-Mich) and Dutch Ruppersberge (D-Md) took the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) to the floor last year, despite the threats that President Obama would veto the Bill on the version that it was then. “Legislation should address core critical infrastructure vulnerabilities without sacrificing the fundamental values of privacy and civil liberties for our citizens, especially at a time our Nation is facing challenges to our economic well-being and national security.”

The two Bills are controversial because on one hand, they address an important aspect of security and it is critical that countries work towards securing cyber space through having relevant legislative framework in place but what is also equally important is that considerations such as human rights provisions such as rights to privacy and other issues such as data protection rights be a part of the equation.  It is also important that lawmakers remember that the foundation of freedoms and rights is also based on the notion that individuals are protected from arbitrariness otherwise there is a devolution to a Police State.  Given the interdependencies of the Internet through its architecture and the series of relationships and transactions, the enforcement of US control over other states through these two Bills means that every Policy made by the global community within Multistakeholder organizations’ like Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will be subject to these laws if passed.

Last year the US Government decided to return two domain names, namely and which it improperly seized and held in its possession for well over a year, without so much as an explanation. ...  The courts in the US disagreed holding that the US government did not have to return the domains and Puerto 80 appealed and then late last year the US Government mysteriously dropped the matter without an explanation.

Even if the Bills were to contain provisions to protect the privacy rights and civil liberties of Americans, there is no guarantee that the rights and protections would extend to non-Americans.


Posted on 01/26