I have often stated our dependence on the breaking system known as the “official” economy, and have pointed out that the masters of this system are waging a war against anyone who tries to create a safety net of alternative systems. Recent posts discussed how this war is being waged against ordinary people who want to become self-reliant in regard to food. However, there are many other fronts to this war.
One such front is the war over the Internet. The Internet has emerged as a powerful example of citizen media and a powerful expression of free speech. Therefore it has become a powerful threat to the established media of our modern industrial society. Anyone who is the least bit savvy knows that the established media have largely become mere propaganda outlets – mouthpieces of the elites who run our society. Often they don't report the very important news which has a significant bearing on the course of our society, and the news they do report is usually slanted to promote the aims of rich corporate masters.
A case in point is the media coverage of the protests which took place just before and during the G20 economic summit in London at the beginning of April. When the protests were covered at all, they were usually covered at the “10,000 foot” level, that is, in a very generic manner almost devoid of detail. On the few occasions when the mainstream media focused on individuals and specific places, they painted the protesters as vandals and lawbreakers, while portraying the British police as dedicated men just trying to do their job. (Examples: “Spirit of 'the Mob' lives on in London,” CNN, 2 April 2009, http://inthefield.blogs.cnn.com/2009/04/02/spirit-of-the-mob-lives-on-in-london/; “Police Attacked As They Try To Save Dying Protester,” Fox News, 2 April 2009, http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,512171,00.html)
The “official” line was roundly discredited, however, by the appearance of citizen-shot video posted on Youtube which showed police initiating violent and unprovoked attacks on protesters and innocent bystanders (See “Earl Street Raid During G20 Protests,” http://tr.youtube.com/watch?v=PYNrf2GIRO4&feature=PlayList&p=C1659084B50463CD&index=20; “G20 Armed Police Raid On Seated Protesters With Their Hands In The Air,” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmqdE0lXcxk&NR=1; and many, many others). And it turns out that the “dying protester” whom the police had been “trying to save” according to the Fox News report had actually been shoved to the ground by the police. Moreover, he had not been a protester at all, but simply a man trying to get home from work (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qrpdrn5kb0s). I can guarantee you that CNN, Fox and the Associated Press didn't break these stories. The Oregonian didn't break these stories. They were not discussed on KPOJ, “Portland's only progressive talk station.” (Ha! That's a laugh. When it comes to chasing money and hawking stuff to buy, KPOJ is no more progressive than any of its Clear Channel sister stations – including right-wing KFI in Los Angeles.)
The result of the appearance of citizen media which so roundly discredits the “official” news line regarding such key events has led to a swift and sharp drop in the credibility of the official media. It has been wryly amusing to follow some of the editorial pieces written by major newspapers decrying the death of the modern newspaper in America, and the supposed inferiority of blogs and other citizen-generated means of publishing news. Often these editorial writers talk of mysterious psycho-social forces and new technologies as being the cause of the demise of the traditional newspaper. I think the truth is far less comfortable to these people. That truth is that more and more people are seeing that the traditional mainstream media predominantly tell either fluff (“Did you hear that Britney Spears' psychotherapist is dating Joaquin Phoenix??!”) or outright lies.
Citizen media, captured by inexpensive consumer electronics and broadcast cheaply over the Internet, is a huge threat to the official propaganda machine of the corporatists who control our society. It is therefore no surprise that members of the United States Congress are now very “concerned” about Internet security and Internet vulnerability, and are introducing legislation to provide for increased “cybersecurity.”
Senate Bill S.773, “The Cybersecurity Act of 2009,” is sponsored by Senators Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME). In a videorecorded speech, Senator Rockefeller justified the need for this bill by speaking of the increased threat to the American economy resulting from vastly increased attacks on America's information technology infrastructure, and he cited “secret” briefings he had received describing these attacks. During that speech, he asked rhetorically whether it would have been better for us if we had not invented the Internet at all. (A most interesting question, which provokes another question: why is he asking this?)
The proposed Cybersecurity Act establishes the usual huge new Federal bureaucracy customary for such bills, but it also establishes a new cybersecurity certification for IT professionals. Any IT professional who cannot obtain this certification is to be barred from IT security work in the U.S. Perhaps the most chilling part of this proposed new law is the granting of power to the President to “declare a cybersecurity emergency and order the limitation or shutdown of Internet traffic to and from any compromised Federal Government or United States critical infrastructure information system or network...”
One would hope that if such a law was passed, a “critical infrastructure information system or network” would not be defined to include the general Web structure, including such things as Google, YouTube, blogs and other means of disseminating citizen media! Otherwise, during a time of domestic tension and deployment of armed Government agents, the President could shut down citizen media sites by declaring a “cybersecurity emergency.”
We don't need such a law to provide an IT infrastructure that is more secure from attack. We could instead take such simple measures as breaking up Microsoft, switching critical IT hubs to Linux or Unix-based operating systems, and insuring a diverse supply of software vendors instead of the monoculture we have now. And there is already a loud and increasing protest and backlash against this proposed law. But I have a prediction: that as protest against this proposed legislation increases and its chances of passage diminish, other members of Congress will be induced to quietly introduce legislation that seeks to set up the same regulatory power proposed in this “Cybersecurity Act.” After all, this is the same strategy that is being employed in corporate attempts to establish Federal control over “food security.”