Former Counter Terrorism Czar Richard Clarke told a leading expert on internet free speech, Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig, that there was going to be an “i-9/11”, in other words, an electronic terrorist act, and an “i-Patriot Act” to crack down on freedoms on the Internet under the guise of protecting against such threats:
There’s going to be an i-9/11 event. Which doesn’t necessarily mean an Al Qaeda attack, it means an event where the instability or the insecurity of the internet becomes manifest during a malicious event which then inspires the government into a response. You’ve got to remember that after 9/11 the government drew up the Patriot Act within 20 days and it was passed.
The Patriot Act is huge and I remember someone asking a Justice Department official how did they write such a large statute so quickly, and of course the answer was that it has been sitting in the drawers of the Justice Department for the last 20 years waiting for the event where they would pull it out.
Of course, the Patriot Act is filled with all sorts of insanity about changing the way civil rights are protected, or not protected in this instance. So I was having dinner with Richard Clarke and I asked him if there is an equivalent, is there an i-Patriot Act just sitting waiting for some substantial event as an excuse to radically change the way the internet works. He said “of course there is”.
(4.30 into this video).
We may have just had our i-911.
Specifically, the government is claiming that hackers defaced army and Nato websites, writing things like:
“Stop attacks u israel and usa ! you cursed nations ! one day muslims will clean the world from you ! ”
This sounds a lot like the notes which were sent with the killer anthrax.
If we did just have our i-911, watch out for military spokesmen, politicians and talking heads pushing for an i-Patriot Act . . . as a way to crush free speech on the web.