Which will get us first: global warming, a rogue asteroid, or…Hackergeddon? To read the news, one would think that computer hackers are taking us to the brink of, well, something bad. Oh yeah, stealing our information, invading our privacy, and sending our children to forced labor camps. OK, I made up the children part. Hey, I have two teenagers in the house. Excuse me for dreaming.
Authorities are gearing up for a high-tech version of the bogey man, one who would wreak havoc on the US by launching nuclear missiles or broadcasting reruns of My Mother the Car on every television in existence. I want neither to happen and would welcome ways to prevent either horrifying scenario.
The problem is the way the government thinks it needs to handle this. A 1934 law already authorizes the President to commandeer broadcast facilities during emergencies. The legislation rearing its head in Congress has the added feature of precluding judicial review.
Folks, are we so scared as to allow a President to decide, without any check whatsoever, when and what on the Internet will be locked down? It is not even clear what would constitute an emergency or a natural disaster. For all I know, Donald Trump’s hair could be labeled a catastrophe.
Let us never be such cowards as to give away our rights so that we can rest a little easier. Smart people left to their own devices will come up with extraordinary ways to protect data and our persons. Governments left to their own devices will continue to eat away at our liberty and still leave us vulnerable. Which do you want?