Internet Gets New Rules of the Road

Internet Gets New Rules of the Road

Consumers Guaranteed Right to View Content; Service
Providers Allowed to Sell Faster, Priority Speeds for Extra Money

By AMY SCHATZ And SHAYNDI RAICE

WASHINGTON—Consumers for the first time got federally
approved rules guaranteeing their right to view what they want on the Internet.
The new framework could also result in tiered charges for web access and alter
how companies profit from the network.

The Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday voted
3-2 to back Chairman Julius Genachowski’s plan for what is commonly known as
“net neutrality,” or rules prohibiting Internet providers from
interfering with legal web traffic. President Barack Obama said the FCC’s
action will “help preserve the free and open nature of the Internet.”

The move was prompted by worries that large phone and
cable firms were getting too powerful as Internet gatekeepers.

Most consumers haven’t had a problem viewing whatever
they want online; few instances have arisen of an Internet provider blocking or
slowing services.

Rather, the FCC rules are designed to prevent potential
future harms and they could shape how Americans access and use the Internet
years from now. In the future, the Internet industry will be increasingly
centered around the fastest-growing categories of Internet traffic—online
video, gaming and mobile services, analysts say. Cisco Systems Inc., the
broadband network provider, has forecast those services could quadruple by
2014.

The
FCC has approved rules that would give the federal government authority to
regulate Internet traffic and prevent broadband providers from selectively
blocking web traffic. WSJ’s Amy Schatz explains what the new rules really mean.

Comcast Corp. and other Internet providers have
experimented with ways to handle the growing problem of network congestion.
Recently, Mr. Genachowski suggested that instead of selectively slowing certain
traffic to cope with congestion, providers could consider charging consumers
for how much data they consume. That would be a departure from the flat monthly
fees consumers pay now for Web access. It’s something providers privately say
is one of the only ways to make a profit and fund network infrastructure.

·
Such a system could
pose a challenge to companies like Netflix Inc., which streams movies over
broadband networks to

Public Interest Groups Want Tighter Wireless Provisions

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The new rules will also allow phone and cable companies
to sell to Internet companies like Amazon.com Inc. faster data delivery for
extra money, particularly on wireless networks. That would let a company that
offers streaming video, like Google Inc.’s YouTube, pay a wireless company like
Verizon Communications Inc. a bonus for guaranteed delivery of its videos to
consumers’ smart phones.

But FCC officials said any such priority service must be
disclosed, and they said they would likely probe and reject such efforts. That
could prompt some of the many expected legal challenges to the new rules, since
it is not clear if the FCC has authority to enforce them.

Consumer groups and other organizations, including the
American Library Association, oppose such high-speed toll lanes, arguing all
Americans should have the same quality of Internet access.

  • The FCC’s decision is
    a mixed bag for consumers. The new rules—which haven’t been released in
    full—say that land-line broadband providers can’t block legal content from
    websites, or “unreasonably discriminate” against companies like Skype
    or Netflix that want to use broadband networks to provide video or voice
    services. They also require providers to give consumers

But the rules come with some wiggle room for the
industry. Service providers will be allowed to engage in “reasonable
network management” to cope with congestion on their systems.

Wireless companies are less restricted by the new rules—a
win for the industry because consumers are increasingly accessing the web using
hand-held devices such as iPhones or Blackberries. Mr. Genachowski said mobile
carriers faced more congestion issues than other companies and need more leeway
to manage their networks.

Wireless companies would be prohibited from blocking
Internet voice services but they could block access to many other applications,
citing congestion issues.

Reaction the FCC’s rules was mixed. AT&T Inc. said
the rules were “not ideal” but would bring some “market
certainty so that investment and job creation can go forward.” Verizon
said it was “deeply concerned” because it didn’t think the rules were
needed. A coalition of Internet companies including Google said the rules were
a good first step but stronger regulations on wireless networks were needed to
ensure the same rules apply to both wired and wireless Internet.

View Full Image

Bloomberg News

Steve
Wozniak, a co-founder of Apple Inc. and a staunch proponent of keeping the
Internet unregulated, after an FCC hearing on Tuesday.

 

Some venture capital firms that invest in innovative
applications and wireless technology expressed concern about how the rules will
impact the wireless business. “The problem is that there’s so much
ambiguity in the rules,” said Brad Burnham of Union Square Ventures, which
has invested in startups including Foursquare and Twitter Inc.

Internet Access is Not a “Civil Right”

Internet Access is Not a “Civil Right”

December 22nd, 2010

Michelle Malkin, CNSNews.com

When bureaucrats talk about increasing our “access” to x, y or z,   what they’re really talking about is increasing exponentially their   control over our lives. As it is with the government health care   takeover, so it is with the newly approved government plan to “increase”   Internet “access.” Call it Webcare.

By a vote of 3-2, the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday   adopted a controversial scheme to ensure “net neutrality” by turning   unaccountable Democratic appointees into meddling online traffic cops.   The panel will devise convoluted rules governing internet service   providers, bandwidth use, content, prices and even disclosure details on  internet speeds.

The “neutrality” is brazenly undermined by preferential treatment   toward wireless broadband networks. Moreover, the FCC’s scheme is widely   opposed by Congress — and has already been rejected once in the   courts. Demonized industry critics have warned that the regulations will   stifle innovation and result in less access, not more.

Sound familiar? The parallels with health care are striking. The architects of Obamacare promised to….

Read more.

The FCC’s Threat to Internet Freedom

The FCC’s Threat to Internet Freedom

‘Net neutrality’ sounds nice, but the
Web is working fine now. The new rules will inhibit investment, deter
innovation and create a billable-hours bonanza for lawyers.

Tomorrow morning the
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will mark the winter solstice by taking
an unprecedented step to expand government’s reach into the Internet by
attempting to regulate its inner workings. In doing so, the agency will
circumvent Congress and disregard a recent court ruling.

How did the FCC get here?

For years, proponents of so-called
“net neutrality” have been calling for strong regulation of broadband
“on-ramps” to the Internet, like those provided by your local cable
or phone companies. Rules are needed, the argument goes, to ensure that the
Internet remains open and free, and to discourage broadband providers from
thwarting consumer demand. That sounds good if you say it fast.

David Klein

Nothing is broken that needs fixing,
however. The Internet has been open and freedom-enhancing since it was spun off
from a government research project in the early 1990s. Its nature as a diffuse
and dynamic global network of networks defies top-down authority. Ample laws to
protect consumers already exist. Furthermore, the Obama Justice Department and
the European Commission both decided this year that net-neutrality regulation
was unnecessary and might deter investment in next-generation Internet
technology and infrastructure.

Analysts and broadband
companies of all sizes have told the FCC that new rules are likely to have the
perverse effect of inhibiting capital investment, deterring innovation, raising
operating costs, and ultimately increasing consumer prices. Others maintain
that the new rules will kill jobs. By moving forward with Internet rules
anyway, the FCC is not living up to its promise of being “data
driven” in its pursuit of mandates—i.e., listening to the needs of the
market.

It wasn’t long ago that
bipartisan and international consensus centered on insulating the Internet from
regulation. This policy was a bright hallmark of the Clinton administration,
which oversaw the Internet’s privatization. Over time, however, the call for
more Internet regulation became imbedded into a 2008 presidential campaign
promise by then-Sen. Barack Obama. So here we are.

Last year, FCC Chairman
Julius Genachowski started to fulfill this promise by proposing rules using a
legal theory from an earlier commission decision (from which I had dissented in
2008) that was under court review. So confident were they in their case, FCC
lawyers told the federal court of appeals in Washington, D.C., that their
theory gave the agency the authority to regulate broadband rates, even though
Congress has never given the FCC the power to regulate the Internet. FCC
leaders seemed caught off guard by the extent of the court’s April 6 rebuke of
the commission’s regulatory overreach.

In May, the FCC leadership
floated the idea of deeming complex and dynamic Internet services equivalent to
old-fashioned monopoly phone services, thereby triggering price-and-terms
regulations that originated in the 1880s. The announcement produced what has
become a rare event in Washington: A large, bipartisan majority of Congress
agreeing on something. More than 300 members of Congress, including 86
Democrats, contacted the FCC to implore it to stop pursuing Internet regulation
and to defer to Capitol Hill.

Facing a powerful
congressional backlash, the FCC temporarily changed tack and convened
negotiations over the summer with a select group of industry representatives
and proponents of Internet regulation. Curiously, the commission abruptly
dissolved the talks after Google and Verizon, former Internet-policy rivals,
announced their own side agreement for a legislative blueprint. Yes, the effort
to reach consensus was derailed by . . . consensus.

After a long August silence, it
appeared that the FCC would defer to Congress after all. Agency officials began
working with House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman on a
draft bill codifying network management rules. No Republican members endorsed
the measure. Later, proponents abandoned the congressional effort to regulate
the Net.

More on Technology

Still feeling quixotic
pressure to fight an imaginary problem, the FCC leadership this fall pushed a
small group of hand-picked industry players toward a “choice” between
a bad option (broad regulation already struck down in April by the D.C. federal
appeals court) or a worse option (phone monopoly-style regulation).
Experiencing more coercion than consensus or compromise, a smaller industry
group on Dec. 1 gave qualified support for the bad option. The FCC’s action
will spark a billable-hours bonanza as lawyers litigate the meaning of
“reasonable” network management for years to come. How’s that for
regulatory certainty?

To date, the FCC hasn’t
ruled out increasing its power further by using the phone monopoly laws,
directly or indirectly regulating rates someday, or expanding its reach deeper
into mobile broadband services. The most expansive regulatory regimes
frequently started out modest and innocuous before incrementally growing into
heavy-handed behemoths.

On this winter solstice, we
will witness jaw-dropping interventionist chutzpah as the FCC bypasses branches
of our government in the dogged pursuit of needless and harmful regulation. The
darkest day of the year may end up marking the beginning of a long winter’s
night for Internet freedom.

Mr. McDowell is a Republican commissioner of the Federal
Communications Commission.

FCC Commissioner Wants to Control the Content of Broadcast Media

December 07, 2010

FCC Commissioner Wants to Control the Content of Broadcast
Media

By Chuck
Rogér

 

The First Amendment forbids Congress from infringing on
Americans’ right to free speech. But the Federal Communications Commission is
not Congress. And Michael Copps, one of four FCC
commissioners
reporting to Chairman Julius Genachowski, seems intent on
ignoring that pesky part of the First Amendment about “abridging the freedom of
speech” when that speech is sent out over the airwaves.

In two
American Thinker articles earlier this year, I discussed possible FCC attempts
to force progressive programming into broadcast media. Now, in addition to a
nasty Christmas present that Genachowski wants to give Americans on December 21
(Net Neutrality), Copps wants government to control
private-sector broadcast content.

In a December 2 speech, Copps proposed that the FCC conduct a “public value
test” of commercial broadcast stations.
If a station passes the Public Value Test, it of course keeps the license
it has earned to use the people’s airwaves. If not, it goes on probation for a
year, renewable for an additional year if it demonstrates measurable progress.
If the station fails again, give the license to someone who will use it to serve
the public interest.
Stations that don’t comply with FCC demands would lose their licenses to
organizations willing to do the agency’s bidding.

The “Public Value Test”
didn’t fly extemporaneously from Copps’s lips. Since Barack Obama became
president, there have been growing noises about reinstituting the effects of the
repealed Fairness Doctrine without calling any new regulation by that name. Progressives long to stop the resurgence of traditional American values that has taken place after two years of economy-killing, freedom-robbing Obama rule. Republicans blew out Democrats in the midterm election. Lefties are in quite a state, desperate to shut down opposition speech.

Silencing
opponents is precisely what one 2007 Center for American Progress study was about. The study, conducted by a group of
progressive ideologues including FCC Diversity Czar Mark Lloyd, complained of 91
percent of talk radio being conservative. Lloyd and company praised the “more
balanced” programming “in markets such as New York and Chicago.” The authors’
choice to call two of America’s bluest cities demographically “balanced” is an
indicator of the study’s dishonesty.

Copps seems to have read Lloyd’s study. In his December 2 speech, the
commissioner focused on seven areas in which the Public Value Test could be applied.
Many of the proposed tactics would force the progressive voice over the airwaves
and reduce the presence of conservative and libertarian voices.
Copps offers programs which allegedly wouldn’t intervene in “issues of
content,” but then he calls for federal “human and financial resources going
into news.” No clear thinker believes that once federal money and employees
start prowling the innards of broadcast stations, federal dictates on media
content would not follow.
FCC efforts aimed at “Reflecting Diversity,” according to Copps, would
not be used to explore “how poorly America’s minorities, women and
other diversity groups are faring on our broadcast media.” But then the
commissioner instantly complains that “people of color own only about 3.6% of
full-power commercial television stations.” Americans are supposed to trust that
the man doesn’t want the FCC to enforce “diverse” station
ownership?
Yet more revealing of intent, Copps maintains that diversity encompasses
“how groups are depicted in the media — too often stereotyped and caricatured
— and to what roles minorities and women have in owning and managing media
companies.” So will the FCC try to force broadcast media to depict minorities
differently? Copps says:

The FCC’s Diversity Advisory Committee has spent years providing
us with specific, targeted recommendations to correct this injustice. How sad it
is that most of these recommendations have not been put to a Commission vote. It
is time to right this awful wrong.

There is little doubt as to the objectives. Copps’s remarks scream “social
justice.” The commissioner essentially prescribes that the FCC supervise the
remolding of the image of minorities and people of color. It would be naïve to
think that if the tactic were implemented, affirmative action on station
ownership would not come to pass.
Copps complains that “minorities are ignored, and local self-expression
becomes the exception” when stations are run by “mega companies” with “absentee
owners” who devalue programming diversity. Stations up for relicensing should
have to “take the public pulse.”
Progressives like Copps cannot help themselves. Contempt for the free
market runs strong in the social engineer’s psyche. No one with business sense
runs an enterprise that has no hope of making money. Enacted, Copps’s plan to
force “minority” programming into communities is a guaranteed broadcast station
and job killer. FCC regulations would join EPA regulations as tools for pushing
prosperity-murdering progressivism.
Mr. Copps isn’t done yet. The FCC should force more “local programming”
into broadcast markets, says the commissioner. Why? “Homogenized music and
entertainment from huge conglomerates constrains [sic] creativity,
suppresses [sic] local talent, and detracts [sic] from the
great tapestry of our nation’s cultural diversity.” If Houstonians won’t listen
to a radio station that plays the music of the Taigana tribe from Mongolia’s
Hovsgol region in consideration of transplanted tribe members living in the
area, then the FCC would presumably insist that one or more stations broadcast
sheep bladder wind instrument melodies anyway. Advertisers won’t buy ad time.
But progressives have no use for sound economics.
What will “local programming” guidelines look like? Copps’s
words:
We should be working toward a solution wherein a certain percentage of
prime-time programming — I have suggested 25 percent — is locally or
independently-produced. Public Service Announcements should also be more
localized and more of them aired in prime-time, too.
“Independently-produced” is code for ideologically tuned messages aimed at
voters. “Public service announcements” will conform to FCC specifications —
indoctrination kicked up a notch.
One of the lowest points in the Copps speech came when the commissioner
called today’s left-wing public broadcasting “the jewel of our media landscape.”
But two still lower points occurred before Copps even opened his mouth. The
venue for the speech was the Columbia University School of Journalism. And Copps
was introduced by left-wing PBS icon Bill Moyers.
A writer, physicist, and former high tech executive, Chuck
Rogér invites you to visit his website,
www.chuckroger.com.
E-mail Chuck at
swampcactus@chuckroger.com.

Page
Printed from:
http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/12/fcc_commissioner_wants_to_cont.html

at December 07, 2010 – 09:36:45 AM CST

//  

This is without a doubt the best video that has come out

This is without a doubt the best video that
has come out and apparently 6 Million others think so
too because there have
been 6 million hits in 4 days.  Please watch it again and again and send
it
on to others.  I believe the pendulum has started to swing so let’s keep it
going.
This is very well done.

http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=JVAhr4hZDJE&vq=medium#t=19


Over 6 million hits in 4 Days pass it on
!

Commander Obama “would require all communications, including ones over the Internet, to be built so as to enable the U.S. government to intercept and monitor them at any time when the law permits.”

Commander Obama “would require all communications, including ones over the Internet, to be built so as to enable the U.S. government to intercept and monitor them at any time when the law permits.”

Keep in mind that next year after the midterm elections, it will be Congress determining what the law is.

Witness the birth of self-government in this inspiring portrayal of the Constitution’s genesis, “A More Perfect Union”

If Obama’s lockstep Democrats are still in control next year, Glenn Greenwald continues, “Internet services could legally exist only insofar as there would be no such thing as truly private communications; all must contain a ‘back door’ to enable government officials to eavesdrop.”

Would this still be America?

BIG SIS BLOCKS WEBSITES WITH ‘CONTROVERSIAL OPINIONS’

TSA to Block “Controversial Opinion” on the Web

Posted by Pia Malbran

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is blocking certain websites from the federal agency’s computers, including halting access by staffers to any Internet pages that contain a “controversial opinion,” according to an internal email obtained by CBS News

The email was sent to all TSA employees from the Office of Information Technology on Friday afternoon.

It states that as of July 1, TSA employees will no longer be allowed to access five categories of websites that have been deemed “inappropriate for government access.”

The categories include:

• Chat/Messaging

• Controversial opinion

• Criminal activity

• Extreme violence (including cartoon violence) and gruesome content

• Gaming

The email does not specify how the TSA will determine if a website expresses a “controversial opinion.”

There is also no explanation as to why controversial opinions are being blocked, although the email stated that some of the restricted websites violate the Employee Responsibilities and Conduct policy.

The TSA did not return calls seeking comment by publication time

President could get power to turn off Internet

Obama Internet kill switch plan approved by US Senate

President could get power to turn off Internet

By Grant Gross | Published: 11:02 GMT, 25 June 10

A US Senate committee has approved a wide-ranging cybersecurity bill that some critics have suggested would give the US president the authority to shut down parts of the Internet during a cyberattack.

Senator Joe Lieberman and other bill sponsors have refuted the charges that the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act gives the president an Internet “kill switch.” Instead, the bill puts limits on the powers the president already has to cause “the closing of any facility or stations for wire communication” in a time of war, as described in the Communications Act of 1934, they said in a breakdown of the bill published on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee website.

The committee unanimously approved an amended version of the legislation by voice vote Thursday, a committee spokeswoman said. The bill next moves to the Senate floor for a vote, which has not yet been scheduled.

The bill, introduced earlier this month, would establish a White House Office for Cyberspace Policy and a National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications, which would work with private US companies to create cybersecurity requirements for the electrical grid, telecommunications networks and other critical infrastructure.

The bill also would 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. The president would need congressional approval to extend a national cyber-emergency beyond 120 days under an amendment to the legislation approved by the committee.

The legislation would give the US Department of Homeland Security authority that it does not now have to respond to cyber-attacks, Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, said earlier this month.

“Our responsibility for cyber defence goes well beyond the public sector because so much of cyberspace is owned and operated by the private sector,” he said. “The Department of Homeland Security has actually shown that vulnerabilities in key private sector networks like utilities and communications could bring our economy down for a period of time if attacked or commandeered by a foreign power or cyber terrorists.”

Other sponsors of the bill are Senators Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, and Tom Carper, a Delaware Democrat.

One critic said Thursday that the bill will hurt the nation’s security, not help it. Security products operate in a competitive market that works best without heavy government intervention, said Wayne Crews, vice president for policy and director of technology studies at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, an anti-regulation think tank.

“Policymakers should reject such proposals to centralize cyber security risk management,” Crews said in an e-mail. “The Internet that will evolve if government can resort to a ‘kill switch’ will be vastly different from, and inferior to, the safer one that will emerge otherwise.”

Cybersecurity technologies and services thrive on competition, he added. “The unmistakable tenor of the cybersecurity discussion today is that of government steering while the market rows,” he said. “To be sure, law enforcement has a crucial role in punishing intrusions on private networks and infrastructure. But government must coexist with, rather than crowd out, private sector security technologies.”

On Wednesday, 24 privacy and civil liberties groups sent a letter raising concerns about the legislation to the sponsors. The bill gives the new National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications “significant authority” over critical infrastructure, but doesn’t define what critical infrastructure is covered, the letter said.

Without a definition of critical infrastructure there are concerns that “it includes elements of the Internet that Americans rely on every day to engage in free speech and to access information,” said the letter, signed by the Center for Democracy and Technology, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and other groups.

“Changes are needed to ensure that cybersecurity measures do not unnecessarily infringe on free speech, privacy, and other civil liberties interests,” the letter added.

 


http://news.techworld.com/security/3228198/obama-internet-kill-switch-plan-approved-by-us-senate/

Napolitano: Internet Monitoring Needed to Fight Homegrown Terrorism

  – Associated Press

 – June 18, 2010

Napolitano: Internet Monitoring Needed to Fight Homegrown Terrorism

Fighting homegrown terrorism by monitoring Internet communications is a civil liberties trade-off the U.S. government must make to beef up national security, the nation’s homeland security chief said Friday. 

WASHINGTON — Fighting homegrown terrorism by monitoring Internet communications is a civil liberties trade-off the U.S. government must make to beef up national security, the nation’s homeland security chief said Friday. 

As terrorists increasingly recruit U.S. citizens, the government needs to constantly balance Americans’ civil rights and privacy with the need to keep people safe, said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. 

But finding that balance has become more complex as homegrown terrorists have used the Internet to reach out to extremists abroad for inspiration and training. Those contacts have spurred a recent rash of U.S.-based terror plots and incidents. 

“The First Amendment protects radical opinions, but we need the legal tools to do things like monitor the recruitment of terrorists via the Internet,” Napolitano told a gathering of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy. 

Napolitano’s comments suggest an effort by the Obama administration to reach out to its more liberal, Democratic constituencies to assuage fears that terrorist worries will lead to the erosion of civil rights. 

The administration has faced a number of civil liberties and privacy challenges in recent months as it has tried to increase airport security by adding full-body scanners, or track suspected terrorists traveling into the United States from other countries. 

“Her speech is sign of the maturing of the administration on this issue,” said Stewart Baker, former undersecretary for policy with the Department of Homeland Security. “They now appreciate the risks and the trade-offs much more clearly than when they first arrived, and to their credit, they’ve adjusted their preconceptions.” 

Underscoring her comments are a number of recent terror attacks over the past year where legal U.S. residents such as Times Square bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad and accused Fort Hood, Texas, shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan, are believed to have been inspired by the Internet postings of violent Islamic extremists. 

And the fact that these are U.S. citizens or legal residents raises many legal and constitutional questions. 

Napolitano said it is wrong to believe that if security is embraced, liberty is sacrificed. 

She added, “We can significantly advance security without having a deleterious impact on individual rights in most instances. At the same time, there are situations where trade-offs are inevitable.” 

As an example, she noted the struggle to use full-body scanners at airports caused worries that they would invade people’s privacy. 

The scanners are useful in identifying explosives or other nonmetal weapons that ordinary metal-detectors might miss — such as the explosives that authorities said were successfully brought on board the Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day by Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. He is accused of trying to detonate a bomb hidden in his underwear, but the explosives failed, and only burned Abdulmutallab. 

U.S. officials, said Napolitano, have worked to institute a number of restrictions on the scanners’ use in order to minimize that. The scans cannot be saved or stored on the machines by the operator, and Transportation Security Agency workers can’t have phones or cameras that could capture the scan when near the machine.

New Bill Gives Obama ‘Kill Switch’ To Shut Down The Internet

New Bill Gives Obama ‘Kill Switch’ To Shut Down The Internet

 

           

overnment would have “absolute power” to seize control of the world wide web under Lieberman legislation

Paul Joseph Watson
Prison Planet.com
Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The federal government would have “absolute power” to shut down the Internet under the terms of a new US Senate bill being pushed by Joe Lieberman, legislation which would hand President Obama a figurative “kill switch” to seize control of the world wide web in response to a Homeland Security directive.

Lieberman has been pushing for government regulation of the Internet for years under the guise of cybersecurity, but this new bill goes even further in handing emergency powers over to the feds which could be used to silence free speech under the pretext of a national emergency.

“The legislation says that companies such as broadband providers, search engines or software firms that the US Government selects “shall immediately comply with any emergency measure or action developed” by the Department of Homeland Security. Anyone failing to comply would be fined,” reports ZDNet’s Declan McCullagh.

The 197-page bill (PDF) is entitled Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, or PCNAA.

Technology lobbying group TechAmerica warned that the legislation created “the potential for absolute power,” while the Center for Democracy and Technology worried that the bill’s emergency powers “include authority to shut down or limit internet traffic on private systems.”

The bill has the vehement support of Senator Jay Rockefeller, who last year asked during a congressional hearing, “Would it had been better if we’d have never invented the Internet?” while fearmongering about cyber-terrorists preparing attacks.

The largest Internet-based corporations are seemingly happy with the bill, primarily because it contains language that will give them immunity from civil lawsuits and also reimburse them for any costs incurred if the Internet is shut down for a period of time.

“If there’s an “incident related to a cyber vulnerability” after the President has declared an emergency and the affected company has followed federal standards, plaintiffs’ lawyers cannot collect damages for economic harm. And if the harm is caused by an emergency order from the Feds, not only does the possibility of damages virtually disappear, but the US Treasury will even pick up the private company’s tab,” writes McCullagh.

Tom Gann, McAfee’s vice president for government relations, described the bill as a “very important piece of legislation”.

As we have repeatedly warned for years, the federal government is desperate to seize control of the Internet because the establishment is petrified at the fact that alternative and independent media outlets are now eclipsing corporate media outlets in terms of audience share, trust, and influence.

We witnessed another example of this on Monday when establishment Congressman Bob Etheridge was publicly shamed after he was shown on video assaulting two college students who asked him a question. Two kids with a flip cam and a You Tube account could very well have changed the course of a state election, another startling reminder of the power of the Internet and independent media, and why the establishment is desperate to take that power away.

The government has been searching for any avenue possible through which to regulate free speech on the Internet and strangle alternative media outlets, with the FTC recently proposing a “Drudge Tax” that would force independent media organizations to pay fees that would be used to fund mainstream newspapers.

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.

The Lieberman bill needs to be met with fierce opposition at every level and from across the political spectrum. Regulation of the Internet would not only represent a massive assault on free speech, it would also create new roadblocks for e-commerce and as a consequence further devastate the economy.