Sen. Joe Lieberman’s push for broad new federal cybersecurity protections has earned some unfavorable comparisons in recent days.
Critics have suggested that his legislation would give the White House the same sweeping powers that Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak used earlier this week to shut down the Internet, denying a vital communication tool being used by the protestors calling for his ouster.
“Egypt turns off internet, Lieberman wants same option for US,” declared one blog post at boingboing.net, which also features of a photo of Lieberman hitting on off-switch. “Joe Lieberman Wants To Be Dictator of Egypt,” declared another post on dagblog.com.
Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, apparently thought the rumblings were getting too loud, and he issued a statement tonight trying to tamp down what he said were misunderstandings about the intentions and effects of his proposal.
“Our cybersecurity legislation is intended to protect the U.S. from external cyber attacks,” Lieberman said in a joint statement with Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Tom Carper, D-Del., co-sponsors of his measure. “Yet, some have suggested that our legislation would empower the President to deny U.S. citizens access to the Internet. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
“We would never sign on to legislation that authorized the President, or anyone else, to shut down the Internet,” the statement continued. “Emergency or no, the exercise of such broad authority would be an affront to our Constitution,” the trio said, adding that what Mubarak did was “totally wrong.”
The full statement goes on to make a detailed case for why they think their bill is needed.