Committee decries 'specious' link between cyber bill and Egypt crackdown

Any comparison between Egypt’s actions and the Senators’ bill is specious. Senators Lieberman, Collins, and Carper are trying to give the President the tools he needs to protect the country and the American people from external attack. In Egypt, the government is trying to restrict access to the Internet to protect itself from internal opposition. The emergency measures in the Senators’ bill are designed to ensure that our most critical infrastructure – the networks and assets most essential to the functioning of society and the economy - are protected from destruction.

The legislation specifically says the president can only invoke the emergency authorities “if there is an ongoing or imminent” attack that would “cause national or regional catastrophic effects” caused by the disruption of the nation’s most critical infrastructure. “National or regional catastrophic effects” includes such things as “a mass casualty event which includes an extraordinary number of fatalities” and “mass evacuations with a prolonged absence.”

Furthermore, any measures ordered by the President must be “the least disruptive means feasible.” When invoking these authorities, the President must notify Congress, and the emergency measures cannot be continued beyond 120 days without congressional approval.

The legislation expressly forbids any action that would violate the First Amendment and also prohibits limiting internet traffic, emails, and other forms of communication (except those between critical infrastructure providers) unless no other action would prevent a regional or national catastrophe.

There is simply no legitimate comparison between the Senators’ intent and what is taking place in Egypt today.