It was pretty much the perfect story: The Senate introduced a bill that would let the President take over the entire internet during a crisis. Our online Weimar Republic is crumbling beneath our digital Führer! Minor catch: It wasn’t true.
Credit to Nicholas Thompson over at Epicenter, who spent some quality time with the bill:
[I] n its original form, did have some seriously bad ideas in it. For example, in an emergency, the president could “order the limitation or shutdown of Internet traffic to and from any compromised Federal Government or United States critical infrastructure information system or network.”
And then, Senate procedure happened. The softened, pared-down language of the current bill would only entitle the President to, “In the event of an immediate threat to strategic national interests involving compromised Federal Government or United States critical infrastructure information system or network” help to “direct the national response” to the crisis “in coordination with relevant industry sectors”. As Thompson notes, nothing scary is granted here, and the President definitely hasn’t been authorised to take over private networks for kicks, or whatever the suspicion was.
In reality, the bill might actually aid transparency, oddly enough: Thompson highlights a theory that, by ensuring the government’s digital emergency management powers are kept out of the less accountable hands of the NSA, and in the public view. So there’s that! [Wired Epicenter]