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Oppose bill that would give President unlimited power to shut down the Internet

We have recently blogged about opposing the bill limiting medical malpractice lawsuits and now we have heard about a new bill that is concerning. Recent news have shown how the Egyptian government has shut down their Internet, shutting down free speech and the right to peacefully organize inside their country. Those of us in Illinois and the United States think that such a hindrance on free speech and the Internet could happen here. But, two leading Senators are re-introducing a bill – that was rejected last term – that would give any future President the same unlimited power to shut down free speech by just pulling the plug on the Internet. If the new bill is identical to the bill that was considered last year, the law would abridge our 7th Amendment right to hold cable, telecom, and internet service companies liable for mishandling the Internet.

The bill that was considered last year provided extensive federal immunity that would override state law and protect companies when they certify in writing that they have complied with government-issued standards for cybersecurity. However, as recent events have shown such as the Wall Street meltdown and the BP oil spill that caused significant personal injuries, federal liability limits often promote a culture of non-compliance with law and encourages industry to take risks with the lives and property of US citizens. Moreover, abuse of this type of power could result in a political silencing of dissenters. Even outside of “emergency” situations, the bill would mandate private-sector networks to be managed by government-licensed cybersecurity professionals.

Please oppose this bill. Our First Amendment rights are important and should not be allowed to be abridged. Visit the 7th Amendment Advocate blog to read more about the bill.