The recent internet clampdown by then-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak should raise fresh concerns in the United States about extending similar emergency powers to the U.S. president, even in the event of a cyberattack, an internet watchdog warned Congress Friday.
“When the government of Egypt cut off internet services on January 27, 2011, to much of its population in order to stifle dissent in an uprising, it magnified concerns about extending cyber security emergency authority to the U.S. president,” Gregory Nojeim of the Center for Democracy and Technology said in a statement submitted to a congressional subcommittee.
The internet cutoff in Egypt “illustrated the First Amendment concerns that would attend use of such authority in the U.S.,” he said.
Nojeim was among witnesses testifying before the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities.
Of particular concern to the subcommittee is how the United States would respond to a successful cyberattack and whether the Defense Department is able and authorized to take the lead.
The subcommittee chairman, Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, said the traditional expectation is that the U.S. military would defend the country from outside threats.
“If a formation of planes or hostile-acting ships came barreling toward a factory or refinery in the U.S., we know pretty well what we expect the military to do,” Thornberry said. “But what do we expect, or should we expect, if a bunch of malicious, or potentially malicious (data) packets come barreling toward that same factory or facility in cyberspace?”
Thornberry warned that the country’s cyber vulnerability is increasing because of greater dependence on ever-more-sophisticated electronics to run the power grid, banking, communications and national security.
“Cyber is a new domain of vandalism, crime, espionage and, yes, warfare, but we are not very well equipped to deal with any of those challenges,” Thornberry said.
Read the entire story: http://www.cnn.com