Virtually at the same moment Obama was demanding that Egypt stop monkeying with Facebook and Twitter, Maine's imitation-Republican Sen. Susan Collins announced that she plans to reintroduce a bill that died in Congress last year. Collins gave the bill a smiley-face name, the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act. Internet geeks, about the only people who've noticed what the government is up to, prefer to call it the Kill-Switch Bill, because that's what it would do: Give the president the authority to turn off the Internet whenever he pleases.
The bill (assuming Collins follows through on her announced plan to keep it substantially the same as the one she sponsored previously) would give the president the right to declare "a national cyber emergency" and seize authority over any part of the Internet he decides is "vital" to the "economic security, public health or safety of the United States, any state, or any local government." And just in case that's not broad enough, the bill also allows him to snatch anything the White House deems "appropriate."
But this is America, dammit, so the bill includes safeguards for our liberties. The president can only grab stuff for four months at a time. And while the bill says his designations on which parts of the Internet are "vital" are not subject to judicial review, he will have the advice of an enormous new cyberspace bureaucracy presided over by one of our most civil-liberties-sensitive agencies ... the airport-gropers of Homeland Security.