A report by a United Nations organization calls for the international body to seize control of information shared over the Internet should the governments of member nations fail to pass sufficient cybersecurity regulations.
In the document, called “Trends in Telecommunication Reform - Smart Regulation in a Broadband World,” the UN’s International Telecommunications Union (ITU) points to the specter of an attack on the cyber infrastructure of a country as justification for the world body’s assumption of regulation and monitoring of traffic on the information superhighway.
That frightening prospect was first reported by the News Limited Network out of Australia.
Paola Totaro and Claire Connelly write:
A draft of the proposal, formulated in secret and only recently posted on the ITU website for public perusal, reveal that if accepted, the changes would allow government restriction or blocking of information disseminated via the internet and create a global regime of monitoring internet communications - including the demand that those who send and receive information identify themselves.
Their summary is accurate.
“the increased use of online applications and services to communicate and do business (such as social media, cloud services, e-payment and other m-banking services),” the ITU proposal calls on “stakeholders” (read: countries that are members of the United Nations),
...to increase their regulatory control over the Internet lest the threats to cybersecurity become an unmanageable problem.
In what likely comes as no surprise to those familiar with the UN’s policy of consolidating power through the eradication of national sovereignty, the ITU draft proposal would grant the government of any member nation the right to throw the "kill switch" on the Internet should that government suspect that information being exchanged threatens their own or a fellow participating country’s national security.
Although the document admits that when it comes to policing the Internet,
“the principles of privatization, competition, and liberalization have been of central importance over the past two decades,” the time has now come, the UN body insists, for government to assume “greater responsibilities” over the flow of information through the Internet.
Thankfully, a coalition of civil rights groups, labor unions, and large cybercorporations have come together to oppose the UN’s plan to police the Internet.
As reported by Common Dreams, this coalition,
opposes the plan by some telecommunications companies and countries including China and Saudi Arabia.
If approved, it would allow the UN's International Telecommunications Union to charge users for services such as email and restrict access to the internet and monitor activity online.
The International Trades Union Conference, representing 6.2 million union members in Britain, wrote that the proposal could "restrict political freedoms and harm civil society." Such changes would hit users from developing countries particularly hard, according to the ITUC.
The website for Stop the Net Grab warns:
The internet as we know it is at risk. Unless we act now, our right to freely communicate and share information could change forever.
In less than four weeks’ time, the International Telecommunications Union (or ITU), a United Nations agency, is planning to adopt new rules to clamp down on the fundamental freedoms of citizens online.
So far the proposal has flown under the radar, but its implications are so serious that we must act quickly to show the ITU and its member countries that citizens will not stand by while our right to communicate freely is undermined.
Chris Disspain, CEO of auDA, told ITWire that a drive to consolidate power is behind the UN’s net grab.
He also said that,
"for some countries it is about a belief that they can control things more easily if they go through the UN."
Later in the ITWire piece, it is reported that Greenpeace and the ITUC sent a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to,
"express their 'deep concern about a potentially very damaging change to the governance of the Internet.'”
As for the reaction from Congress, Common Dreams reports:
At a hearing last May of a U.S. House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee, Republicans and Democrats were united in their opposition to any move by Russia and China to transfer control of the Internet to the U.N., according to Steve Elwart of the Koinonia Institute, a subject matter expert for the Department of Homeland Security.
President Obama, as The New American has reported, isn’t willing to wait on Congress to pass any measure addressing the alleged precarious state of U.S. cybersecurity.
Promises of the White House’s imminent issuing of the edict have been coming for months.
The Associated Press (AP) obtained a leaked draft version of the order, but indicated that the source of the document didn’t disclose when the president would sign the order.
Greater evidence of the imminent issuing of the order came on September 19, when Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the executive order granting the president sweeping power over the Internet is “close to completion.”
In testimony before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Napolitano said that the order is still “being drafted” and vetted by various high-level bureaucrats. But she also indicated that it would be issued as soon as a “few issues” were resolved.
Assuming control of the nation’s Internet infrastructure is a DHS responsibility, Napolitano added.
“DHS is the Federal government’s lead agency for securing civilian government computer systems and works with our industry and Federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government partners to secure critical infrastructure and information systems,” she informed senators.
Napolitano’s report on the role of DHS squares with the information revealed in the seven-page version of the order the AP has read.
According to the report of their findings:
The draft order would put the Department of Homeland Security in charge of organizing an information-sharing network that rapidly distributes sanitized summaries of top-secret intelligence reports about known cyber-threats that identify a specific target.
With these warnings, known as tear lines, the owners and operators of essential U.S. businesses would be better able to block potential attackers from gaining access to their computer systems.
The new draft, which is not dated, retains a section that requires Homeland Security to identify the vital systems that, if hit by cyberattack, could "reasonably result in a debilitating impact" on national and economic security.
Other sections establish a program to encourage companies to adopt voluntary security standards and direct federal agencies to determine whether existing cyber security regulations are adequate.
The president’s de facto re-routing of all Internet traffic through federal intelligence officers deputizes more than just DHS as cybertraffic cops. The AP reports that “the Pentagon, the National Security Agency (NSA), the director of national intelligence, and the Justice Department” will all cooperate in the surveillance - in the name of national security, of course.
Evidence of President Obama’s impatience was found Thursday in a story published by the Washington Post that reported,
“President Obama has signed a secret directive that effectively enables the military to act more aggressively to thwart cyberattacks on the nation’s web of government and private computer networks.”
Although unpublished as of press time, that directive, Presidential Policy Directive 20, reportedly,
“lays out a process to vet any operations outside government and defense networks and ensure that U.S. citizens’ and foreign allies’ data and privacy are protected and international laws of war are followed.”
The citing of “international law” as authority for such an unconstitutional exercise of authority is nothing new.
As has happened so frequently during the Obama administration, government - national and international - demands that liberty be sacrificed on the altar of national security.
As for execution of the UN's plan, the 193-member ITU will meet December 3-14, 2012 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
by Richard Lardner
October 19, 2012
from AP Website
A new White House executive order would
direct U.S. spy agencies to share the latest intelligence about
cyberthreats with companies operating electric grids, water plants,
railroads and other vital industries to help protect them from
electronic attacks, according to a copy obtained by The Associated
The seven-page draft order, which is being finalized, takes shape as the Obama administration expresses growing concern that Iran could be the first country to use cyberterrorism against the United States.
The military is ready to retaliate if the
U.S. is hit by cyberweapons, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said.
But the U.S. also is poorly prepared to prevent such an attack, which
could damage or knock out critical services that are part of everyday
The White House declined to say when the president will sign the order.
The draft order would put the Department of Homeland Security in charge of organizing an information-sharing network that rapidly distributes sanitized summaries of top-secret intelligence reports about known cyberthreats that identify a specific target.
With these warnings, known as tear lines,
the owners and operators of essential U.S. businesses would be better
able to block potential attackers from gaining access to their computer
An organized, broad-based approach for sharing cyberthreat information gathered by the government is widely viewed as essential for any plan to protect U.S. computer networks from foreign nations, terrorist groups and hackers. Existing efforts to exchange information are narrowly focused on specific industries, such as the finance sector, and have had varying degrees of success.
Yet the order has generated stiff opposition from Republicans on Capitol Hill who view it as a unilateral move that bypasses the legislative authority held by Congress.
Administration officials said the order became necessary after Congress failed this summer to pass cybersecurity legislation, leaving critical infrastructure companies vulnerable to a serious and growing threat.
Conflicting bills passed separately by the House and Senate included information-sharing provisions.
But efforts to get a final measure through
both chambers collapsed over the GOP's concerns that the Senate bill
would expand the federal government's regulatory power and increase
costs for businesses.
The White House has acknowledged that an order from the president, while legally binding, is not enough. Legislation is needed to make other changes to improve the country's digital defenses. An executive order, for example, cannot offer a company protection from liabilities that might result from a cyberattack on its systems.
The addition of the information-sharing provisions is the most significant change to an earlier draft of the order completed in late August.
The new draft, which is not dated, retains a
section that requires Homeland Security to identify the vital systems
that, if hit by cyberattack, could "reasonably result in a debilitating
impact" on national and economic security. Other sections establish a
program to encourage companies to adopt voluntary security standards and
direct federal agencies to determine whether existing cyber security
regulations are adequate.
The draft order directs the department to work with the Pentagon, the National Security Agency, the director of national intelligence and the Justice Department to quickly establish the information-sharing mechanism.
Selected employees at critical
infrastructure companies would receive security clearances allowing them
to receive the information, according to the document. Federal agencies
would be required to assess whether the order raises any privacy or
civil liberties risks.
To foster a two-way exchange of information, the government would ask businesses to tell the government about cyberthreats or cyberattacks. There would be no requirement to do so.
The NSA has been sharing cyberthreat information on a limited basis with companies that conduct business with the Defense Department. These companies work with sensitive data about weapon systems and technologies and are frequently the targets of cyberspying.
But the loss of valuable information has been eclipsed by fears that an enemy with the proper know-how could cause havoc by sending the computers controlling critical infrastructure systems incorrect commands or infecting them with malicious software.
Potential nightmare scenarios include
high-speed trains being put on collision courses, blackouts that last
days or perhaps even weeks or chemical plants that inadvertently release
Panetta underscored the looming dangers during a speech last week in New York by pointing to the Shamoon virus that destroyed thousands of computer systems owned by Persian Gulf oil and gas companies. Shamoon, which spreads quickly through networked computers and ultimately wipes out files by overwriting them, hit the Saudi Arabian state oil company Aramco and Qatari natural gas producer RasGas.
Panetta did not directly connect Iran to the Aramco and RasGas attacks.
But U.S. officials believe hackers based in Iran were behind them.
Shamoon replaced files at Aramco with the image of a burning U.S. flag and rendered more than 30,000 computers useless, Panetta said.
The attack on RasGas was similar, he said.
A spokeswoman for the National Security Council, Caitlin Hayden, said the administration is consulting with members of Congress and the private sector as the order is being drafted.
But she provided no information on when an order would be signed.
"Given the gravity of the threats we face in cyberspace, we want to get this right in addition to getting it done swiftly," she said.