Professor Jonathan Zittrain '95

Harvard Law School Professor Jonathan Zittrain appeared on the Mar. 9 edition of American Public Media’s Marketplace Tech Report to discuss the Cybersecurity and Internet Freedom Act of 2011, introduced last year by Senators Joe Lieberman, Susan Collins, and Thomas Carper.

The proposal originally granted the president authority to request that service providers restrict Internet access or shut down traffic from certain countries in the event of a “cyber emergency,” and subsequently became widely referred to as the “Internet kill switch” bill. The Act was re-introduced in February and revised to emphasize the role of the Department of Homeland Security in such an emergency.

According to Zittrain, although the bill has raised concerns about governmental control over public and private networks in light of recent events in Egypt and Libya, the configuration of the Internet “doesn’t avail itself that easily conventionally of one single circuit-breaker.” Zittrain also asserts his belief that “the framers of this bill … aren’t out to take over the Internet.” Instead, he states: “I’m pretty persuaded that they believe there’s a real risk out there that you could have, if not a kill switch by a government, as we’ve seen attempted in Libya or Egypt, but rather, a real disruption” of critical infrastructure.

Zittrain is the co-founder and faculty co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. In 2010, he was appointed to the faculty of the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) as professor of computer science. His latest book is “The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It“.