As the Federal Communications Commission considers new rules for how to safeguard competition and user choice on the web, President Obama issued a lengthy statement urging for the "strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality." According to the President, the American economy is reliant on an open Internet. He also said that the principle of net neutrality is not one we can take for granted.
For the past three and a half years, President Obama has been to foreign locales and all over the United States. As he fights to keep his job in the upcoming election, his travels took him to a new destination, a pitstop on Reddit as he embarks on his campaign trail. If you couldn't access Reddit for a short while yesterday, it's because users flocked to the site to participate in his AMA (Ask Me Anything) session.
President Barack Obama appointed Indian-American Vivek Kundra as the White House's first ever Chief Information Officer (CIO), a position he held for two and a half years but will leave behind in August to become a joint fellow at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, said Jacob J. Lew, the White House budget director, in a blog post.
Cuban folk star Silvio Rodriguez made a plea to U.S. President Barack Obama and Google CEO Eric Schmidt to provide developing countries with free Internet access, Yahoo News reports. The 40-year-old singer became inspired to make the request after hearing President Obama recently met with big wig Internet entrepreneurs, such as Schmidt, Apple CEO Steve Jobs, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday made the trip to snow-covered Northern Michigan University to unveil a wireless Internet expansion plan intended to create more economic opportunities, The Washington Post reports. Obama's plan calls for $18 billion in federal funds to expand high-speed wireless Internet access to 98 percent of Americans over the next five years.
A US Senate committee today approved an expansive cyber security bill that many fear could harm the Internet. The legislation can now move on to the Senate floor for a vote, where it will likely pass. Some have suggested the bill would allow the President to shut down parts of the Internet in the event of a terrorist attack. The so-called Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act is backed by several Senators, but Joseph Lieberman has been perhaps its staunchest supporter.
Backers of the legislation say that there is no provision for an "Internet kill-switch" as some have warned. Instead the bill only expands existing powers of the President to close "any facility or stations for wire communication" in case of war. The main purpose of the law would be to establish a centralized White House Office for Cyberspace Policy. Through this office, network operators could be ordered to implement emergency response plans in the event of attack. We suppose that could mean shutting something down, but the bill is unclear.
The vagueness of the bill is what concerns civil libertarians and security experts so much. It's true the bill would expand executive authority over communication infrastructure, but it is not entirely clear what is covered. There may not be a straight up "Internet kill-switch" in the bill, but we can't help but feel a little fretful about it. Where do you come down?
Are you worried Fermi is going to make your GeForce 8800 look a bit long in the tooth? Well just be glad you're not stuck trying to run Crysis on the Secret Service's mainframe featuring state of the art technology from the 1980's. A classified review of the aging computer system has revealed that the system is now only operational about 60 percent of the time, and frequently prevents them from accessing the master database of mission critical information and apps.
"We have here a premiere law enforcement organization in our country which is responsible for the security of the president and the vice president and other officials of our government, and they have to have better IT than they have," said Lieberman, who is chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. Currently the NSA runs 42 mission-oriented applications on a 1980s IBM mainframe, and are hideously underpowered based on the agencies current requirements.
The price tag for updating the system is a mere $187 million, and far below the $33 million they currently have in the budget. If I were president, I would probably check the seat cushions on Air Force One to make up the difference, they are charged with saving his life after all.
Back in April we reported on new legislation which, if passed, would give the president the authority to take control of the Internet. Over four months later it appears that not only has this bill continued to be worked on, but it is now closer to fruition than ever before. Revisions to the legislation made by the office of Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, remains “vague” according to Larry Clinton, president of the Internet Security Alliance. “It is unclear what authority Sen. Rockefeller thinks is necessary over the private sector. Unless this is clarified, we cannot properly analyze, let alone support the bill.
The legislation which is now up to 55 pages in length isn’t all controversial, in fact the only section that is being hotly debated at the moment is Section 201. In this section the President is permitted to “direct the nations response to the cyber threat” if necessary for “the national defense and security.” This would allow the White House to engage in “periodic mapping” of private networks that are determined to be critical, and those companies will “share” requested information with the federal government. In plain English, this simply means that if your company is deemed “critical”, regulations determine who you can hire, what information you can disclose, and under what conditions the government can take control over your companies computers or network.
“The language has changed but it doesn’t contain any real additional limits,” according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “It simply switches the more direct and obvious language they had originally to the more ambiguous version. The designation of what is a critical infrastructure system or network as far as I can tell has no specific process”.
Want to read the official White House response to all the controversy? Click the jump to read the statement made to CNET’s Declan McCullagh.
Want to make a lasting impression at the next Junior Republican Convention? Just tell everyone you have the President in your pocket, and you don't even have to fib about it thanks to Active Media, makers of the WWF Penguin and Panda USB drives. The USB manufacturer today adds the 8GB Obama USB drive to its growing lineup of unique flash media.
"The drive is loaded with content to explore. We've more than doubled the bonus content compared to our original Obama drive," noted Jerry Thomson, vice president of marketing at Active Media Products. "This historically important product is offered at a time when the country celebrates its 233 year birthday."
More specifically, the 8GB USB drives comes pre-loaded with 80MB of material ranging from high resolution phots of President Obama and the First Lady, to over two hours of speeches in MP3 format. Also included are several speeches in PDF form.
Both the original 2GB and newer 8GB capacities are available now for $10 and $30, respectively.
New legislation proposed on April 1st will give a whole new meaning to geeks who like to joke that the President has his finger on the button. If the proposed legislation comes to pass, the president will have the ability to shut down public and private networks, including internet traffic should the need arise. This power is part of a new cybersecurity emergency plan that is designed to help protect the US against attack, but also gives the government unprecedented control over our networks.
The critics of this bill however are lining up, and are voicing their concerns over how this power could be abused. According to Leslie Harris of the Center for Democracy and Technology, “This is pretty sweeping legislation. Seems the President could turn off the Internet completely or tell someone like Verizon to limit or block certain traffic. There is a lot to worry about in this bill.”
Since the bill is still in its early stages, it is unclear what amendments will be made, or if it will even be passed at all. West Virginia Democratic Senitor John Rockefeller made it clear to the media that this is the first draft of the proposal, and that they will be in close contact with internet-centric companies who obviously have a lot more at stake here than the average user.
Obama may soon have the power to nuke the real world, and World of Warcraft. Are you comfortable with this?