A new proposal by a top Microsoft executive would open the door for government licensing to access the Internet, with authorities being empowered to block individual computers from connecting to the world wide web under the pretext of preventing malware attacks.
Speaking to the ISSE 2010 computer security conference in Berlin yesterday, Scott Charney, Microsoft vice president of Trustworthy Computing, said that cybersecurity should mirror public health safety laws, with infected PC’s being “quarantined” by government decree and prevented from accessing the Internet.
“If a device is known to be a danger to the internet, the user should be notified and the device should be cleaned before it is allowed unfettered access to the internet, minimizing the risk of the infected device contaminating other devices,” Charney said.
Charney said the system would be a “global collective defense” run by corporations and government and would “track and control” people’s computers similar to how government health bodies track diseases.
Invoking the threat of malware attacks as a means of dissuading or blocking people from using the Internet is becoming a common theme – but it’s one tainted with political overtones.
At the launch of the Obama administration’s cybersecurity agenda earlier this year, Democrats attempted to claim that the independent news website The Drudge Report was serving malware, an incident Senator Jim Inhofe described as a deliberate ploy “to discourage people from using Drudge”.
Under the new proposals, not only would the government cite the threat of malware to prevent people from visiting Drudge, they would be blocked from the entire world wide web, creating a dangerous precedent by giving government the power to dictate whether people can use the Internet and effectively opening the door for a licensing system to be introduced.
Similar to how vehicle inspections are mandatory for cars in some states before they can be driven, are we entering a phase where you will have to obtain a PC health check before a government IP czar will issue you with a license, or an Internet ID card, allowing you to access the web?
Of course, the only way companies or the government could know when your system becomes infected with malware is to have some kind of mandatory software or firewall installed on every PC which sends data to a centralized hub, greasing the skids for warrantless surveillance and other invasions of privacy.
Microsoft has been at the forefront of a bid to introduce Internet licensing as a means of controlling how people access and use the world wide web, an effort that has intensified over the course of the past year.
During this year’s Economic Summit in Davos, Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer for Microsoft, said that the Internet needed to be policed by means of introducing licenses similar to drivers licenses – in other words government permission to use the web.
“We need a kind of World Health Organization for the Internet,” he said, mirroring Charney’s rhetoric about controlling cyberspace in a public health context.
“If you want to drive a car you have to have a license to say that you are capable of driving a car, the car has to pass a test to say it is fit to drive and you have to have insurance.”
“Don’t be surprised if it becomes reality in the near future,” wrote ZD Net’s Doug Hanchard on the introduction of Internet licensing . “Every device connected to the Internet will have a permanent license plate and without it, the network won’t allow you to log in.”
Just days after Mundie’s call for Internet licensing, Time Magazine jumped on the bandwagon, publishing an article by Barbara Kiviat, one of Mundie’s fellow attendees at the elitist confab, in which she wrote that the Internet was too lawless and needed “the people in charge” to start policing it with licensing measures.
Shortly after Time Magazine started peddling the proposal, the New York Times soon followed suit with a blog entitled Driver’s Licenses for the Internet?, which merely parroted Kiviat’s talking points.
Of course there’s a very good reason for Time Magazine and the New York Times to be pushing for measures that would undoubtedly lead to a chilling effect on free speech which would in turn eviscerate the blogosphere.
Like the rest of the mainstream print dinosaurs, physical sales of Time Magazine have been plummeting, partly as a result of more people getting their news for free on the web from independent sources. Ad sales for the New York Times sunk by no less than 28 per cent last year with subscriptions and street sales also falling.
As we have documented, the entire cybersecurity agenda is couched in fearsome rhetoric about virus attacks, but its ultimate goal is to hand the Obama administration similar powers over the Internet to those enjoyed by Communist China, which are routinely exercised not for genuine security concerns, but to oppress political adversaries, locate dissidents, and crush free speech.
Indeed, Internet licensing was considered by the Chinese last year and rejected for being too authoritarian, concerns apparently not shared by Microsoft.
Any proposal which allows the government to get a foot in the door on dictating who can and can’t use the Internet should be vigorously opposed because such a system would be wide open for abuse and pave the way for full licensing and top down control of the world wide web.
Paul Joseph Watson is the editor and writer for Prison Planet.com. He is the author of Order Out Of Chaos. Watson is also a fill-in host for The Alex Jones Show. Watson has been interviewed by many publications and radio shows, including Vanity Fair and Coast to Coast AM, America’s most listened to late night talk show.