It’s happening in a foreign land, and it hasn’t really made the news over here, but Obama’s creation of the post of Cybersecurity Czar affects internet users the world over. As we can see from this diagram, a majority of the world’s internet traffic travels through the United States, as that is where it was first built and expanded from. Many of the things we use every day like Hotmail, Google, lots of blogging sites are all based in the USA so the reality is most of what we do outside the US has already been subject to FISA and will no less be subject to the Cybersecurity Czar and the Cybersecurity Bill, should it pass. For a UK Libertarian blogger, that may not seem so scary, until you remember firstly the US Government‘s view of bloggers and libertarians, and secondly that UK subjects can be extradited to the US on presentation of no evidence whatsoever. Considering the lastest moves in the USA against free speech, does that not make you a little worried?
Apart from the report from the Electronic Frontiers Foundation that the Act’s new requirements will actually make life easier for anyone wanting to commit a cyber-attack on the USA (and therefore, by extension anyone else) perhaps the scariest provision is giving the White House the power to shut down the internet completely, or at least the US portion of it. Since such a large proportion of internet traffic travels through the US, this would effectively cripple what has become the backbone of the world’s financial and business systems. Many companies use the internet not only to generate custom, but also to organise their inventories, place orders, control their logistics and communicate with their customers and suppliers. The company I work for, small fish globally compared to the likes of Wal-Mart and Tesco but nevertheless a huge business sustaining millions of jobs worldwide would be crippled in the event of an internet shutdown. Pretty much all the big players worldwide would be in just such a jam, Y2K eat your heart out, and all of it in the hands of one man. Still, he’s the mesiah, right? The White House’s cure in this instance could definitely be worse than the disease, in fact provoking just this sort of response from a panicked Washington may well be the goal of “Cyber-Terrorists” were they, in fact, to exist. The Endarkenment in an afternoon!
One last thought: Perhaps these proposals will lend weight to the EU’s demands that the US let go the reigns of the internet and hand control to a new, globally-appointed and unaccountable body?