Following in the proud, wide, footsteps of SOPA and PIPA, the US Senate is set to vote on another internet regulation bill this week — and the web is worrying already. Justified? Maybe. Unfortunately, the public isn't allowed to read it.
The Hill reports that the bill deals with private networks — say, Amazon's S3 or Apple's iCloud — in the event that they're compromised or under attack. Some in private IT security are fretting:
Bob Dix, vice president of government affairs and critical infrastructure protection at Juniper Networks said the bill's language suggests DHS could seize control of systems owned by private firms and cloud providers.
"The provision that establishes covered critical infrastructure presumes to give DHS new authority, that in my mind is overly broad, subject to interpretation and frankly goes beyond the boundaries of the role of government," Dix said, calling some of the new authorities "very scary."
Homeland Security "seizing" parts of the internet sure does sound scary, but then again, people like Dix have a deep financial interest in legislation like this — the government doing his job for him means lost dollars. He doesn't want to be boxed out.
But for those of us without a moneyed stake in this, should we care? Of course. Congress has already displayed a historically slippery grasp on tech issues, and the willingness to clamp down online via dubious due process. And of course, any bill kept hidden from the public is a giant, waving red flag — legislation should never be in the shade.
I hit up Senator Joe Lieberman's office — Chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security — to answer some questions about how the bill works, but have yet to hear back. Sometime before the Senate votes on it would be ideal. [The Hill]