The most recent testament to government ineptitude, the ill-famed Cybersecurity Act of 2012, was defeated last Thursday in the Senate, as the bill only received 52 of the necessary 60 votes to proceed with debate. While it is dead for now, like a resilient zombie, it can resurrect later, after the Senate’s recess.
Backed with Democratic support, the bill was to strengthen internet security standards for private companies that dealt with government infrastructure, but was heavy-handed in it’s tactics. In a manner that is becoming alarmingly all-too-frequent in government, the mandates within the cybersecurity bill were to force companies to enact these standards and, in the absence of doing so, report to Congress the reason for their failure to comply with whatever rules Congress sees fit to enact. It was met with broad GOP opposition for fairly obvious reasons.
However, the bill contained more than the potential for governmental overreach; Senate Democrats attempted to sneak in an amendment to the cybersecurity bill to create a ban on firearm magazines with a capacity of more than ten rounds. The amendment, proposed for a bill that has nothing to do with firearms, was aimed at capitalizing on the knee-jerk public reaction to the shooting in Colorado and was just one more way in which our government tried to pull one over on the American people. Ironically enough, while Democrats are pulling underhanded tricks like this, they criticize Republicans for “obstructing” the legislative process.
In an upsetting twist, however, The White House has signaled that they are receptive to possibly just doing what they damn-well-please anyway and issuing an executive order. As is the case with all true republics, if the legislative branch does not do what the executive wants, the executive reserves the right to just proclaim the rules of the land. No, wait… that doesn’t sound right…
In response to a question from The Hill, a Washington newspaper, regarding whether President Obama will enact the cybersecurity bill’s measures through an executive order, White House spokesman Jay Carney stated,
“In the wake of Congressional inaction and Republican stall tactics, unfortunately, we will continue to be hamstrung by outdated and inadequate statutory authorities that the legislation would have fixed… Moving forward, the President is determined to do absolutely everything we can to better protect our nation against today’s cyber threats and we will do that.”
In short, Carney means: “The ends justify the means to do whatever we want. Deal with it.”
While the looming, thinly-veiled threat of executive intrusion into a legislative matter is troubling enough, the real problem here is the continued attempts by this administration to insert government into the regulation of the internet. While we are likely very far away from full-on, China-esque regulation of the web, the government is continually attempting to put themselves into a position where they may claim the authority to do so.
In an Obama America, where the government can force citizens to buy a product, it is not, altogether, surprising to see the government trying to force private companies to implement their “suggestions”. It is, however, troubling to see repeated attempts to increase governmental power, and when they fail to do so, maintain that they reserve the right to do it anyway.
The bill may be dead for now, but Harry Reid and his band of crafty cohorts will be back in September. Let’s not forget to take this issue off the back burner when/if the bill is resurrected after the senators have their much-needed R&R.