Our Federalism Online

A strange story from California:

In what one California official characterized as a case of overkill, U.S. officials disrupted access to all state government Web sites this week after a county Web page was hacked.

The federal government stepped in after learning that a Marin County, California, Web page redirected users to a pornographic Web site . . . Federal authorities, who have ultimate authority over most local and state Web sites, attempted to block all domains ending in ca.gov Tuesday, Hanacek said.

State agencies across California experienced rolling e-mail and Web site outages for about seven hours, and Internet users had trouble pulling up some state Web sites, he said.

The General Services Administration, which shut down the sites, apologized for the inconvenience . . . [but said]

“GSA is responsible for the integrity of all the .gov Web sites it manages,” the agency said in a statement. “The potential exposure of pornographic material to the citizens and tens of thousands of children in California was a primary motivator for GSA to request immediate corrective action.”

Put aside the overkill aspect of the story, if you can. (Let alone the potential for political mischief…) The truly surprising aspect of the story is that it highlights that the several States do not control their electronic destinies. They’ve traded convenience and harmonization for e-sovereignty!

For federalists, this would seem an unfortunate choice. Is the dream of laboratories of democracy a dead-tree idea?

(h/t: Drum.)

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2 Responses

  1. Orin Kerr says:

    “Federal authorities, who have ultimate authority over most local and state Web sites, attempted to block all domains ending in ca.gov Tuesday, Hanacek said.”

    Does any one know what this actually means? Last I checked, the ultimate authority over local and state web sites was local and state governments.

  2. Orin Kerr says:

    Ah, wait, I should have read more carefully:

    *************

    The General Services Administration, which shut down the sites, apologized for the inconvenience on Thursday and said it would try to find a more targeted solution for similar problems in the future.

    “GSA is responsible for the integrity of all the .gov Web sites it manages,” the agency said in a statement. “The potential exposure of pornographic material to the citizens and tens of thousands of children in California was a primary motivator for GSA to request immediate corrective action.”

    **************

    Never mind….