New York Governor Andrew Cuomo today suggested that internet service providers (“ISPs”) should censor certain information that’s publicly available on the internet–bomb-making instructions–and that ISPs should track users who seek to obtain such information
During an interview with CNN‘s Wolf Blitzer, Cuomo was questioned about this morning’s pipe bomb attack on the Port Authority terminal at 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue in Manhattan. So far, at least five people are reported injured.
The suspect has been identified as Bangladeshi national, Akayed Ullah.
Blitzer introduced Cuomo, who jumped into a description of the suspect and his possible motives. He said:
[Ullah] apparently went to the internet and downloaded information as to how to make a homemade bomb, detonated it in an area that could have done extensive damage…fortunately for us, the bomb partially detonated. It was not a sophisticated device. It was a homemade device. He did detonate it, but it did not fully have the effect that he was hoping for…
Then, after briefly discussing Ullah’s apparent lone-wolf status, Cuomo launched into his point about the internet. He said: “They’re not people who come from overseas. They live here. They’re disgruntled. They go to the internet. They find out how to download a device that can hurt and maim. And they implement it themselves on a low-tech basis.”
Blitzer then pressed Cuomo on whether Ullah had any direct connections with organized terror groups. Cuomo replied that Ullah was likely inspired by or influenced by organized terror groups. He then returned to his point about the internet, saying:
It’s just all too easy now to go the internet and download a quick tutorial on how to [hurt] people. One the questions the internet companies are going to have to deal with, that’s a sensitive question, but a question that I would pose to them is, these internet service providers companies, they have what they call machine-learning tools. Right? When you’re on the web they know where you’re going. Because they then target the advertising to you and to your tastes. What do they do when they know a person is going to a website that says ‘This is how you make a bomb’, ‘This is how you hurt people in a terrorist attack’ and we all like to feel free and anonymous on the Web—I don’t know that we actually are—but it’s a question that we’re going to have to deal with as a society going forward. Because these last two instances for New York—both of them—went on the Web, downloaded information, they must have been looking at a number of these types of websites and that’s where they get their information, that’s where it’s spreading from.
Cuomo then recited a story from his youth. He said, “I met [former Israeli Prime Minister] Shimon Peres…when I was in my 20s and we were in Israel and he said, ‘Israel now has these frequency of terrorist attacks because of our proximity. One day the terrorists will figure out how to cross the ocean and then America will have the same attacks because the enemy is democracy.’ The internet, Wolf, is the bridge across the ocean.”
Law&Crime reached out to the New York governor’s office for clarification on the apparent censorship-and-tracking regime suggested by Cuomo, but no response was forthcoming at the time of publication.
[image via screengrab/CNN]