Presidential Powers and Cybersecurity Emergencies

by Project Censored
Published: Updated:

In a national emergency the President has the power to completely shut down the internet in the US.  Some members of Congress are trying to even expand presidential control over the internet. Senate Bill 773, the Cybersecurity Act of 2009, is making its way though Congress and would give the President additional power to “declare a cyber security emergency”. This declaration would immediately halt all internet traffic in the US.

This is comprehensive legislation designed to address our nation’s vulnerabilities towards cyber crime, global cyber espionage, and cyber attacks. It would establish a new Cybersecurity Advisory Panel within the White House and stream-line the cybersecurity effort through all levels of government. The bill also calls on the Department of Commerce to establish and maintain information related to cybsecurity threat and vulnerability information to public and private infrastructure deemed critical by the President.

The Secretary of Commerce would be given access to this information, “without regard to any provision of law, regulation, rule, or policy restricting such access.” The bill would also give the President new authority to “declare a cybersecurity emergency and order the limitation or shutdown of Internet traffic to and from any compromised Federal Government or United States critical infrastructure information system or network.”

Title: Should Obama Control the Internet?

Source: Mother Jones, 4/2/09

Author: Steve Aquino

Title: Is Obama Plotting to Shut Down the Internet?

Sources: Mother Jones         10/27/2009


Author: Stephanie Mencimer,

Title: Presidential Powers During Cybersecurity Emergencies

Source: Findlaw a Thomson Reuters , 10/6/2009


Author: Eric Sinrod

Senate Bill 773—

Student Researcher: Tyler Head and Andrew Nassab

Faculty Evaluator: Noel Byrne Ph.D. and Kelly Bucy Ph.D.

Sonoma State University:  Sociology of Media, Fall 2009

Instructor: Peter Phillips,  #09