June 18, 2010


Glenn Reynolds, Paranoid Gun Nut

Who else would fall for an hysterical conspiracy theory about the feds and the Internet?

Here’s Insta’s knee jerking:

If they shut down the Internet, I’m getting out my gun. And I think everyone should take it as a signal to do the same — because one way or the other, it means the country’s under attack.

He soon realizes he’s been had, although characteristically fails to take responsibility for the error. Stewart Baker:

There’s an Internet kill switch all right, but it ain’t in Washington. It’s in Beijing and Moscow. And soon in Pyongyang. The Lieberman-Collins-Carper bill, which might take the kill switch away from our foreign adversaries, will soon have bipartisan support in the House.

By “soon realizes,” Andrew means I linked to Baker in the same post — not even in an update. But Baker doesn’t actually say there’s no US kill switch. Baker thinks a US kill switch is a good idea, in response to threats from other countries. Meanwhile, let’s look at some other paranoids on this issue. There seem to be a lot of us:

While the bill’s sponsors say it is intended to create a shield to defend the United States and its largest companies from the growing threat of cyberattacks, civil-liberties activists tell The Daily Beast they fear the bill could give the White House the ability to effectively shut down portions of the Internet for reasons that could prove to be politically inspired.

“We have seen through recent history that in an emergency, the Executive Branch will interpret grants of power very broadly,” said Gregory Nojeim of the Center for Democracy and Technology, a group that promotes Internet freedom. He said the bill, which he described as moving “at lightning speed in congressional terms,” was too loosely worded in its definition of which companies would be regulated and what they would be required to do in an emergency.

Wayne Crews, vice president of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free-enterprise think tank, said he believed the bill was so broadly worded that it might even allow the White House to take aim at whistleblowing websites that were believed to pose a national-security threat, such as WikiLeaks, in the guise of a “cyber-emergency.” “That would be a concern of mine,” Crews tells The Daily Beast. “The way it seems to be worded, the bill could easily represent a threat to free speech.”

They’re also worried at The Huffington Post. And here’s a report from Declan McCullagh: “The idea of an Internet ‘kill switch’ that the president could flip is not new. A draft Senate proposal that CNET obtained in August allowed the White House to “declare a cybersecurity emergency,” and another from Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) would have explicitly given the government the power to ‘order the disconnection’ of certain networks or Web sites.”

This would seem to be the same kind of bipartisan civil-liberties consensus that I thought Andrew favored, at least back before the election, but I guess he’s got reason now for unthinking loyalty where the Obama Administration is concerned. The rest of us, not so much . . .

And here’s something on the subject that I wrote for the Wall Street Journal last month. Readers can decide how paranoid it sounds.

As for the large numbers of readers who always email that I shouldn’t respond to Andrew’s trolling, well, I usually don’t. But every once in a while it’s worth noting just how sadly he’s declined. And, as is done with regard to a certain other attention-seeking blogger he’s coming to resemble, I’ll try to make it up to you with a picture of Joy Riddle.

UPDATE: A reader emails: “Andrew Sullivan, Paranoid Gyn Nut — Who else would fall for an hysterical conspiracy theory about the birth mother of Trig Palin?” Heh.

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