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Say No To a Government Internet "Kill Switch" 433

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the terrible-ideas-make-me-sad dept.
GMGruman writes "In the name of national security, the feds are considering a law that would let the government turn off the Internet — or at least order broadband providers and ISPs to disable access. InfoWorld blogger Bill Snyder explains why this is a bad idea. Does the US really want to be like China or Iran?"
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Say No To a Government Internet "Kill Switch"

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 24, 2010 @10:16AM (#32677394)

    Yes.

    • by TrisexualPuppy (976893) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @10:19AM (#32677430)
      With common human mentality, the US government is just keepin' up with the Joneses.

      Just keep your people chanting "freedom" and "democracy" as you lead them off the cliff like lemmings to the sea.
    • by boneclinkz (1284458) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @10:23AM (#32677502)
      "What is it, General?"

      "Mister President, it's the Internet. We fear it's gone rogue. We lost contact with it yesterday, and our attempts to reestablish contact have failed."

      "You know what to do."
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Maxo-Texas (864189)

      The deciding factor was when we learned that china and iran were working along similar lines, and we were afraid of an internet killswitch gap.

      I know it's preposterous and the president would never approve of anything like this.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by HiThere (15173)

        It's only preposterous if you believe that his goals and purposes are what he says they are. But remember, he voted for FISA while he was just a candidate.

        So it's not preposterous, only quite sad.

  • by Inf0phreak (627499) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @10:18AM (#32677410)
    "It's bad civic hygiene to build technologies that could someday be used to facilitate a police state."
    • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @10:30AM (#32677614)
      I disagree with TFA that "it raises the specter of some future administration using that power to crack down on its opponents". The bigger concern is that it could be used to stop the flow of information to the public during a severe crisis (natural disaster, military, political, etc). A large portion of US residents have become addicted to the flow of information arriving via the internet (myself included). Disrupting it would lead to a greater panic than just about anything the government might be trying to "protect us from" (ie, hide from us).
      • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @10:43AM (#32677814)
        It depends on the granularity of the switch. If the switch could only kill the whole Internet, or at least the portion of the Internet in the USA, then it would take a lot before a politician tried to use it to silence opponents. But if the switch could knock out, say, just one subnet, or just one link, or just one server...now suddenly it becomes possible to shut down political opponents, and the possibility is not all that far fetched. The FBI has repeatedly sent undercover agents to anti-war groups, socialist groups, etc.; how many people would actually listen if an anti-war group accused the government of shutting down their website?
        • even worse (Score:5, Insightful)

          by nten (709128) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @10:57AM (#32678046)

          Richard Clarke has suggested that the backbone endpoints, and even ISPs have super smart deep-packet-inspection filters that get their signature files from both folks like AV vendors *and* the government. In addition to signatures for malware, you could certainly create signatures for "dangerous ideas". Speaking of dangerous ideas... He also recognizes that serious oversight is needed to prevent abuse, but makes the assumption that such oversight is possible. When the people you are supposed to be overseeing can control what packets get sent to you, how do you do that?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by LWATCDR (28044)

          Or to be used to stop a DOS attack on government or news servers or to shut down attacks on other vital services.
          The anti-government fear can be a bit much at times. It is good to question the government's polices but it is not good to be extremely paranoid.
          This like everything else can be used for good as well as bad things. Just tell me what public utility doesn't have the ability isolate parts of it's network to control damage?
          In many ways this is as outlandish of a fear as the government shutting off el

      • by c0d3g33k (102699) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @10:55AM (#32678014)

        A large portion of US residents have become addicted to the flow of information arriving via the internet (myself included). Disrupting it would lead to a greater panic than just about anything the government might be trying to "protect us from" (ie, hide from us).

        Perhaps you really meant "rely" or "depend" upon? I know it's popular these days, but IMHO 'addicted' is a profoundly overused word. (Probably due to the current fashion of calling anything that people find enjoyable or useful enough to do regularly an addiction.) I use the internet a lot and depend on it for information and convenience, but I sure as hell wouldn't "panic" if it were disrupted. I would be upset and angry, as I am when I lose power, water or the use of my cell or landline. The ability to rapidly gather information and communicate with loved ones or authorities during a crisis is crucially important (particularly when on the move eg. during a commute home), as you rightly suggest, but it's not an addiction.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bonch (38532)

        The government, particularly this administration, wants to control the flow of information for its own agendas. There's a philosophical battle now between the power of city-states and nation-states, where the administration believes in a nation-state that regulates everything while rising anti-Washington public sentiment supports city-states who make their own laws. A society with a technology like the internet is far more difficult to control as a nation-state, but regulating that technology is a way for t

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by russotto (537200)

      "It's bad civic hygiene to build technologies that could someday be used to facilitate a police state."

      Problem is, there's a vast amount of dual-use technology. I mean, sure, working on censorware or the Great Firewall of China or something similar is directly facilitating a police state. But video cameras? (universal surveillance, modern Western democracies notably including the UK) Punched cards (tracking enemies of the state, Nazi Germany, sorry Mike)? Microphones (bugs, Soviet Russia and everywhere

    • by Feyshtey (1523799) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @10:40AM (#32677790)
      Agreed. Like many of the policies put forth by our current administration, you might trust them to use those new powers and regulations for the betterment of all. (This is, of course, quite debatable.) But do you have confidence that the -next- President, and his administration, will be so caring?

      One of the reasons for the Constitution specifically limiting the reach of the Federal Govt (that no one really seems to give a shit about anymore... we'll just "pass a law so you can see what's in it"...) is so that the Feds cannot build an empire over which they have absolute control. Putting in mechanisms to 'turn it off' does precisely that.
  • Isn't it obvious (Score:5, Informative)

    by guruevi (827432) <evi@@@smokingcube...be> on Thursday June 24, 2010 @10:18AM (#32677414) Homepage

    Does the U.S. really want to be like China or Iran

    "Right now China, the government, can disconnect parts of its Internet in case of war and we need to have that here too," Lieberman

    • by Pojut (1027544) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @10:20AM (#32677450) Homepage

      I don't think quoting a Senator who is reviled by just about everyone, regardless of party affiliation, is indicative of the general consensus in this country.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Darkenole (149792)

        Hmmmmm... Didn't you notice the Diploma ffrom the Hugo Chavez School of Governing on the Oval Office wall?

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Pojut (1027544)

          last time I checked, there were still literally hundreds of thousands of private businesses out there, and there isn't a single industry in which government runs 100% the design, production, distribution, and funding.

          Claims of socialism in this country (at least, to the extent that people have been making since the 2008 elections) are knee jerk reactions at best and extensive fear mongering at worst. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Obama is all roses and wine...but he's hardly the harbinger of socialism

  • by Pojut (1027544) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @10:18AM (#32677416) Homepage

    ...how is this any different than radio and TV? Do we not already have the emergency broadcast system that can barge in and essentially "turn off" radio and TV services?

    • by Xacid (560407) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @10:23AM (#32677494) Journal

      The goal of the EBS isn't to completely shut down TV and Radio - it's to facilitate emergency communications.

      The hypothetical effect of what this bill supposedly (I haven't read the bill myself) would completely trash our economy. We're in an age where a vast chunk of our transactions pass through the internet. Personally I think this "medicine" has worse side effects than the ailment. The only way I could see this being used to "benefit" America is in the same way Iran tried hushing their people during civil unrest and I'm sure that's the goal here.

    • by PhrostyMcByte (589271) <phrosty@gmail.com> on Thursday June 24, 2010 @10:23AM (#32677498) Homepage

      ...how is this any different than radio and TV? Do we not already have the emergency broadcast system that can barge in and essentially "turn off" radio and TV services?

      The Radio and TV that they can interrupt are receive-only. They don't block phones, which people use to communicate. They shouldn't block internet.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hadlock (143607)

      We don't have an emergency broadcast system via landline (that I know of). What is your opinion on the government being able to turn off the phone system in case of emergency? I think that's more relevant here. Broadcast Radio and TV isn't a two-way communications system. Even during 9/11 the government only asked people to make "only essential calls to free up lines for emergency workers".

      • by htdrifter (1392761) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @12:51PM (#32679718)

        What is your opinion on the government being able to turn off the phone system in case of emergency?

        The phones can be shut off under martial law. It's been done many times. The National Guard shutoff phones in Portage and Summit counties Ohio in less then 10 minutes after they shot the students at Kent State (May 4, 1970). They also closed all East/West highways between the counties. I heard the shots as I was going out the driveway. I pulled into a Lugans and tried to call dispatch from the phone booth. The phone had a recorded messge to the effect "by order of the government the phone service has been suspended". or somthing like that. I went into the restaraunt and asked to use their phone. Same message.

        For the record I was Sr. Field Engineer tech specialist assisting on a machine in Taylor Hall when I and the FE that I was assisting were forced to leave the building at gun point by a NG officer. I drove to the hospital, in Ravenna, since I was sure the pathologist, who I knew, would allow me to use his phone. Arriving in Ravenna I was faced by cops with Thompson pointed at me. At the hospital the pathologist told me I could use the phone but first he wanted me to go in the morgue and make sure one of the 4 dead students wasn't his daughter. She wasn't one of them. That done I was able to make phone calls since the emergency phones were not affected.

        This all traspired in less then 30 minutes. It got worse as the day wore on, but that's another story.

        Freedom can be taken away faster then seems possible.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 24, 2010 @10:26AM (#32677558)

      The difference is that the internet RELIES on the consumer being non-passive; EG, it RELIES on the fact that the consumer is also a producer.

      What this means in a nutshell: The internet is much more than the boob-tube. It is more than newspapers. It is more than radio. All three of those are passively consumed; the reader/viewer/listener sits and absorbs content, but does not create content.

      As a result, cutting off newspapers, Television, or radio in a "National Emergency" does not impair the public's ability to communicate, which is a protected freedom in the united states. Cutting off the internet DOES impair that ability.

      That is why measures like this are unacceptable. It is also EXACTLY why the government wants to have that power; it forces all news to go through "approved" (controlled) channels, and allows complete censorship of ideas, essentially circumventing both freedoms of press, and of speech. (Two things that the US government has found difficult to cope with, given the uncontrollable, decentralized nature of internet journalism, and the rise of places like WikiLeaks.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Ron Bennett (14590)

      The emergency broadcast system has become a farce in many locales. It's often used, at least here in southeastern Pennsylvania, to announce severe thunderstorms may be in the area. To be clear, I'm not talking tornadoes, but simple, run-of-the-mill, thunderstorms being used as the pretext to interrupt broadcasts.

      Ron

    • Yes you are correct (Score:5, Interesting)

      by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @10:47AM (#32677878) Journal

      Same as the powers that be can turn of electricity, water, gas and the phones if they need to under certain situations. This is NOTHING abnormal. And if I am working as the gas station and the firebrigade tells me to shut of the gas to a certain area I will have to do so or they will do it for me.

      This is very reasonable, the fire service obviously wants to be able to shut the gas of if there is a risk. Just as the police can close an area or force me to donate my goods to the common good. Only nutcases (americans) protest against this, a person is burning to death but this is MY water hoose and the state does not have the right to confiscate it damn it!

      The problem with this is that these nutters have a point. The internet is more then just a product shipped to the end-user and the emergencies are far less clear. I can smell a gas leak, but how do I check that their is a internet security risk demanding immidiate action?

      The police has the right to shutdown utility services in for instance hostage situations to apply pressure to a hostage taker. But what about shutting down utilities to rioters? To trouble some areas? To districts that voted for the opposition?

      And what is an emergency on the net? An embarrising video? Of US soldiers slaughtering unarmed civilians perhaps?

      The EBS is from a different era when we "trusted" our government to only use it in a real emergency. We don't trust our government that much anymore. How are we going to know in this era of black-ops everywhere whether the emergency was real?

      Part of this proposal reads simply as a suggestion to give the same control over the internet as over other essential services so that its continued operation can be ensured when the shit hits the fan. But to the paranoid mind, there might be a hidden agenda. And these days some people really do seem out to get you.

    • by Jawnn (445279) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @11:37AM (#32678600)
      Duh...
      Maybe because the nature of the Internet is almost completely different from that of broadcast media? The internet is, as has already been observed, is a two-way communications medium, more akin to the telephone or snail mail than broadcast media. The fact that the Internet can be used gain the same (or greater) reach as broadcast media does in no way make it the same thing, because of the simple fact that that reach is available to virtually anyone with access.

      The power that the Founding Fathers saw in free speech is, without question, magnified by the Internet and the many technologies the ride upon it. That fact has not been lost on those entities who have reason to fear a free and open exchange of ideas and information (China, North Korea, Iran, Texas) . That anyone in the U.S. government could seriously suggest the same type of controls that are so quickly and effectively employed by despots simply boggles the mind.
  • Its a protocol (Score:2, Redundant)

    by BigJClark (1226554)

    Its a protocol people, find a different way or medium to transmit your information.
    • Its a protocol people, find a different way or medium to transmit your information.

      Of course! I'll get right on that ... ;-)


      • What I meant to say is, continue to use the TCP/IP protocol for your communication. You could technically communicate TCP/IP over two cans and a wire. I was being shmarmy of course, because it would nearly be impossible to connect to say, slashdot, without the telecom infrastructure, but heaven forbid the government put a "kill switch" (which I could argue that as well, thats the whole point of a decentralized communication system), we would find other ways.
  • Hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 24, 2010 @10:19AM (#32677432)

    Maybe we need a switch to turn off the government?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 24, 2010 @10:19AM (#32677438)

    What good is a skype phone call Mr. Anderson ... if you are unable to speak.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    In Soviet Russia the dictatorship of the proletariat becomes US.

    Seriously I remember when I was a small child and I would remember my mother telling me, "Every day the USSR is becoming more like the United States, and every day we're becoming more like the USSR." An internet "kill switch" would shut off access to some of our citizenry's most honest and trusted news sources while allowing big media to continue to broadcast the drivel that passes for news that is solely optimized to protect their bottom lines

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Pojut (1027544)

      Quinn: "I think the great struggle is all made up...the only thing we're struggling against is him."
      Debbie: "So wait, you're saying communism is bad?"
      Quinn: "What are you, two years old? Hasn't history proven that Marx's vision of an egalitarian utopia is unattainable, inevitably creating an oligarchy more oppressive to the proletariat than the bourgeoisie it vilifies?"
      Stormy: "I have to pee."

      • by geekoid (135745)

        Yeah, another example of confusing Marxism and communism.

        Next up, confusing social programs with communism.

  • Yea.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pak9rabid (1011935)
    Because something like this would neeeeeeever have the potential to be abused...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 24, 2010 @10:22AM (#32677488)

    We all know what the real reason for this is: to destroy the people's main channel of communication in order to extinguish a situation that government deems threatening to its power and revenue. We're not talking about a threat from outside, but rather something from the inside which potentially compromises the elite and their positions.

  • by Cimexus (1355033) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @10:23AM (#32677496)

    This has made the news a bit overseas too. There were some doubts voiced that the US could effectively completely 'kill' the Internet. Sure most of the DNS root servers are located in the US, and they could SEVERELY disrupt it. But perhaps not kill it entirely.

    The summary here makes a bit more sense though - it's talking about shutting down ACCESS to the internet (at an ISP level) rather than necessarily the network itself. Either way though it would have a huge effect. Given that a large proportion of all servers/hosts are in the US, a nationwide shut down would affect many, many sites used by other countries as well.

    I can see two sides to the argument. One is that the US, as a single country, shouldn't have the right to shut down what is now a truly global network. The other is that the US military (well, DARPA) did invent the damn thing in the first place, funded by American taxpayers' money, so perhaps they have an inherent right to do this, in an emergency, if it's in the US' national interest.

    Thing is, I can't really think of a national security scenario that would be 'helped' by a total shut down of the Internet (as opposed to a targeted shut down of particular peoples' access or particular networks/providers/areas etc).

    • Thing is, I can't really think of a national security scenario that would be 'helped' by a total shut down of the Internet

      Any political crisis where blocking access to the information is better than the political fallout from the actual block. Also it is not an all or nothing Kill switch: There is nothing to say they cannot take ISP's offline for a whole geographical area, say for example in and around any city where H1N1++ virus outbreak has taken hold and the only safe option is to let the people in the area sit it out for better or worse. What better way to keep people in their homes not trying to run if nobody near the ar

    • by swordgeek (112599) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @10:49AM (#32677908) Journal

      Actually, one quarter (49/200) of the root DNS servers are in the US. I checked last Friday, after this discussion came up elsewhere. The remainder would be congested, but probably able to stay upright.

      Regardless. shutting down "access at the ISP level" is pretty much a meaningless statement. Specifically, it says, "private companies -- such as "broadband providers, search engines, and software firms -- immediately comply with any emergency measure or action"

      Search engines. That means that google and yahoo will shut down--worldwide.
      Broadband providers. ISPs. Companies that aren't ISPs buy their access _from_ ISPs. This isn't just Joe down the street and Susie's Bead Shoppe, it's major oil companies and banks.

      What about international shipping companies that coordinate through the internet? Trains? Airlines? Stock markets? All of it will grind to a screeching halt, with massive economic damage over the next weeks or months or years. The rest of the world _will_ survive a 'loss of the US' on the internet, although not without collateral damage.

      As for DARPA's invention giving them the authority to do this, it's no different that Canada saying that because of Bell inventing the telephone, they have the right to shut down the worldwide POTS network. It's silly - the genie left the bottle decades ago, and the US is now a player, not the owner. Besides, any organization that has that degree of power or authority also has a responsibility to others it would harm.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Eunuchswear (210685)

      This has made the news a bit overseas too. There were some doubts voiced that the US could effectively completely 'kill' the Internet.

      Trivialy easy. DNS isn't the way you'd do it, BGP is.

    • By "we" I mean we nerds. We need to come up with a new network of wi-fi mesh that does away with ISPs and cell phone providers. On first thought it seems simple, until you start to consider the security aspects. Anyone?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Because we all know the same government that would be horrible to give a "kill switch" do would do a wonderful job with the thousands of pages of picayune regulations necessary to define and implement "net neutrality".

    Because our government is SOOOO competent.

  • by DragonFodder (712772) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @10:25AM (#32677540)
    When any government, or any church for that matter, undertakes to say to its subjects, 'This you may not read, this you may not see, this you are forbidden to know,' the end result is tyranny and oppression, no matter how holy the motives. Mighty little force is needed to control a man whose mind has been hoodwinked; contrariwise, no amount of force can control a free man, a man whose mind is free. No, not the rack, not fission bombs, not anything--you can't conquer a free man; the most you can do is kill him. [Robert Heinlein]
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by geekoid (135745)

      R.H. suffers from the "reductio ad absurdum" logical fallacy.

      In fact that quote is a great example. So, there is nothing that should be kept secret?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mcgrew (92797) *

      I always enjoyed Heinlein's writings, but he was no sage. You can indeed enslave a free man, unless by "free" you mean free of any family, loved ones, friends, or posessions. If I hold a knife to your child's throat you'll do any damned thing I tell you to.

      I counter his razor (usually misnamed "Hanlon's Razor) with "never attribute to incompetence whatn greedy self interest will explain."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 24, 2010 @10:26AM (#32677550)

    "We cannot afford to wait for a cyber 9/11 before our government realizes the importance of protecting our cyber resources." -Olympia Snowe (R-Maine)

    It seems that members of the senate get access to some crazy-good weed... how high do you have to be to say "cyber 9/11"? WTF does "cyber 9/11" mean?? Are terrorists going to fly a plane into internet tubes and clog them?!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702)
      "It'll be like 9/11 times one hundred."
      "Oh my God..."
      "Yes. Ninety-one Thousand, One Hundred."

      o_O
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Peter La Casse (3992)

      WTF does "cyber 9/11" mean?

      It means "an attack carried out using the Internet that is as devastating to the US as the attacks on 9/11," duh.

      Are terrorists going to fly a plane into internet tubes and clog them?!

      Denial of service attacks exist, yes.

  • Better plan (Score:5, Insightful)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @10:26AM (#32677554)
    Hey, why not instead encourage people who decided to connect systems that control critical infrastructure to the public Internet to practice stronger security? Or, perhaps to not connect a critical system to a public computer network?
    • Re:Better plan (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 24, 2010 @10:40AM (#32677780)

      Because it's easier not to. Physical separation of networks makes the work a lot harder.

      I work at a company that builds digital speed cameras. And I can connect to any them, even the ones that are live, sending out tickets. I just need to go trough 2 routers, which have firewalls but easy admin passwords. Of course our office has VPN access, and Internet. So basically I could tap into the cameras from anywhere. Removing tickets if I wished, or even implanting fake ones. Of, if you love your privacy a bit better, I could just get ALL photos, not just of speeders.

      I've expressed my concern about this, but nobody seems to care. It's easier to maintain like this.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by geekoid (135745)

      They address that in the bill. In fact the bill deals with developing an appointed position to advise on cyber security policy.

  • rolls eyes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [erauqssemitelcric]> on Thursday June 24, 2010 @10:29AM (#32677600) Homepage Journal

    "But a proposed law that would give the government a so-killed kill switch to essentially turn off the public Internet is very, very worrisome, and it raises the specter of some future administration using that power to crack down on its opponents"

    no it doesn't unless you are a paranoid schizophrenic

    if we have some sort of warhol worm, everyone ranting against the kill switch will be begging for the president to cut off the internet

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warhol_worm [wikipedia.org]

    the need to cut off the internet makes perfect sense IN THE RIGHT CONTEXT. which is what the law will be tailored to. but if you take the idea of shutting down the internet, and put it in the context of your deepest fear: say, censorship based on political ideology, of course the idea is frightening. AS IF THIS CONTEXT MAKES ANY SENSE. there is no slippery slope, folks, unless you remove from the law and its invocation the existence of thinking human beings. all jokes about big government to the contrary, that's absurd

    people: fight the encroachment of government onto our rights and liberties. but do it intelligently. taking a commonsense provision and imaging its usage in the most ridiculously hysterical fear-based context is NOT intelligence, and it reduces the noble instinct to defend liberty and our rights to a laughingstock

    our liberties and our rights and freedoms are utterly doomed if those who defend those notions are hysterical twits who cry the sky is falling about everything. be prudent and intelligent or don't bother: you only hurt the good cause

    • Yeah, exactly. It would just be easier to install a kill switch on all Window's computers.
    • Re:rolls eyes (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Pedersen (46721) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @10:50AM (#32677934) Homepage

      the need to cut off the internet makes perfect sense IN THE RIGHT CONTEXT. which is what the law will be tailored to. but if you take the idea of shutting down the internet, and put it in the context of your deepest fear: say, censorship based on political ideology, of course the idea is frightening. AS IF THIS CONTEXT MAKES ANY SENSE. there is no slippery slope, folks, unless you remove from the law and its invocation the existence of thinking human beings. all jokes about big government to the contrary, that's absurd

      One thing I have found time and time again: It is very easy to determine whether or not a law will be abused. Simply look at the people who are worried about what will happen, ask what they're worried about, and then listen to the responses from the proponents. When the responses include such phrases as "this will not happen" "it's impossible" "that's absurd" and the like, the law will be abused in exactly the way being described.

      To see too many examples from my own lifetime, you only need to look at copyright law. Laws can now be copyrighted by the writers, and legal battles waged so that the laws can be even be posted online so that everybody can see the laws they are subjected to (see: building codes for various areas around the country, such as Oregon [blogspot.com]). People working legally within their own country can be held prisoner should they visit another country (see Dmitry Slyarov [wikipedia.org]). People in other countries being investigated in their own country for violating a law that only exists in the US (see DVD Jon [wikipedia.org]).

      I have seen any number of people worried about the laws our government enacts, and the way in which it enforces those laws. I have seen them say "Wait! Bad idea! Abuse runs rampant with this!", and be told "Don't worry. Won't happen. You're being overly paranoid." Every time that has been the response, I have later seen that law get abused in just that way. And here you are, telling me (and others) not to worry, we're being paranoid, it won't happen. You'll pardon me if, based on past observation, I am somewhat skeptical of your claim.

      If you want to calm us down, and keep us from worrying, it's actually quite easy: Get limits put in the bill. For instance, this would help: "If the President uses the power granted by this law, then a vote of confidence is to be held in both houses of Congress within 48 hours. If the vote of confidence does not pass with at least a 2/3 majority of all members of the houses (not just those who attend), the President is immediately removed from office, with his successor, the Vice President, to take his place. In addition, the order to shut down the Internet will be rescinded immediately on completion of the vote." Put that in, and I'll be okay with this bill passing. The people in charge will be unwilling to use this power except under conditions that would actually require its use. Your response goes from "That's absurd" to "Thanks to this provision, we can ensure that it will only be used when absolutely necessary." Anything less than that sort of response, and I'm nervous.

      Quite frankly, you should be nervous too. If you're not, you haven't paid enough attention to how power gets abused.

      • is a clear definition of the context in which the power will be used

        there's nothing at all wrong with what you are asking for

        but how that context is defined: as intelligently as possible, is not in any way served by the adrenal gland overclocking OMGWEAREBECOMINGAFASCISTAUTOCRACY-ALLOURRIGHTSAREBEINGRAPED-THEYSEEEVERYTHINGYOUDO crowd

        the fight or flight response is a potent mammalian invention. adrenal glands are wonderful survival aides in times of sudden stress. but someone who is put under immense immedia

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by geekoid (135745)

        yes, that explains why the government shuts down the roads and declares martial law all that time.

        Wait, no they don't.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mcgrew (92797) *

      no it doesn't unless you are a paranoid schizophrenic

      Dude, read a newspaper some time, or even TFA. China censors their version of the internet, as do other oppressive countries. To think that the US couldn't fall into tyrany is pollyannaism.

      if we have some sort of warhol worm, everyone ranting against the kill switch will be begging for the president to cut off the internet

      I already have a kill switch to cut off the internet; it's on the PC itself. The beauty of it is when I use this switch, it only affect

  • by cfulton (543949) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @10:29AM (#32677604)
    The US government liberal and conservative alike continue to create institutions and policies in the name of freedom that limit the actions of individuals to act on there own behalf. Someday soon someone who want power above all will use those institutions and policies against the masses. Then the new American police state will be born. But, I will bet that we will still advertise the country as free.
    • liberal and conservative alike

      No no no no... That's Democrat and Republican alike.

      Any real liberal or conservative wouldn't associate themselves with their mainstream party substitutes. The people in both of those parties are only the husks of what use to make each of them great at some point in our history.
  • Packaged nonsense (Score:3, Informative)

    by Wowsers (1151731) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @10:30AM (#32677610) Journal
    How do you have an internet kill switch?

    A data packet will route whichever way it can. If the US decided to be unattainable to the rest of the world, although lots of congestion on the alternate routes, the packets would find a new route to the destinations UNLESS it's destination is within the US. However, doing such a thing to your own country would kill your commerce stone dead. Look how much money small / local outages costs some economies.

    Could someone please explain to the ignorant politicians in stupid terms even they can understand, the concept of packet switching.
  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @10:30AM (#32677624)

    . . . martial law, and all that, and really did need to "turn off" the Internet . . . wouldn't they just do it anyway . . . ?

    The US Army 137th Backhoe Battalion digs up and severs some strategic fiber lines . . . ?

    If the shit hits the fan, nobody is going to ask, "Hey, are we allowed to do that?" They'll just do whatever they think that they need to do anyway.

    Turn off Internet first, ask questions later.

    I mean, like, what was all that hanky panky with those undersea cables in the Middle East . . . ?

  • Communication is important in any crisis. The only reason to sabotage it is to disrupt and disable organization of the enemy. Why would our own government want to "switch off" our ability to coordinate?
  • This is not news. The government already has the power to shutdown telecommunications in times of a national emergency. The argument is, does that include the Internet - and most believed it did - especially the main links. The proposal being talked about now, based on initial assessment actually curtails the existing law more than it expands it. But overall a good discussion to have. If someone managed to exploit a long standing bug that allowed for country wide damage - would a shutdown be warranted? Not
  • A bunch of old guys want to be able to turn off the internet?? Because of war?

    Um... do they know something we don't?

  • by blcamp (211756) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @10:34AM (#32677690) Homepage

    "Does the U.S. really want to be like China or Iran?"

    Maybe the US as a citizenry doesn't want it... but this administration certainly does.

    It's hard to control the message when it's free-flowing and instant via the Internet. This administration wants control, especially in any "emergency".

  • Hmmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Que914 (1042204) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @10:35AM (#32677712)

    Does the U.S. really want to be like China or Iran?

    It seems pretty arrogant to assume we're so much different from either of them, every civil liberty violation we point at in our adversaries we see through the goggles of an outsiders opinion. How does it look to an outsider that we held hundreds of people for the better part of a decade with no right to a trial, that the CEO of the only telephone company who told the NSA they needed a warrant is now in jail, that the government tried to suppress video footage of an Apache gunning down good samaritan, so on and so forth.

    We like to envision the citizens of countries we don't care for as helpless prisoners or demonic dictators but the reality is probably about half the citizens think the governments wonderful and doing a great job, and half think they're evil tyrants, just like here.

  • The internet is a major threat to globalization.

  • I don'tsee anywhere in the bill the provides for a kill switch, or fines.

    I do see some good stuff:
    Getting an expert for government officials to consult with:
    Getting someone in charge of maintaining privacy:
    Getting the heads of security agencies to develop better practices.
    Cybersecurity RnD.
    Professional development.

    No kill switch. Like I said, I may have missed it. It's not the best laid out document.

  • by tekrat (242117) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @10:52AM (#32677956) Homepage Journal

    ... Can only mean one thing: INVASION!

    Ah, Mr. Lucas, your ability to write dialog never ceases to amaze me... And yet, fully cognizant of the irony, I continue to quote from your films. What a loser I am.

  • I like this idea (Score:3, Insightful)

    by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @10:56AM (#32678036)
    Then Fox won't be accessible to the rest of the world, and we can start forming opinions which don't include the drivel spouted by News Corp, the RIAA / MPAA, and the rest of the megacorps who want to govern world politics.

    Seriously, I'm all for a total communication blackout of America. I think it would do the English public some good to concentrate on our own issues.
  • Stupid idea (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Fujisawa Sensei (207127) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @10:59AM (#32678078) Journal

    The Internet was designed to NOT be turned off.

  • by howardd21 (1001567) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @11:05AM (#32678166) Homepage
    Nice, we cannot seal our borders but we will seal the internet? I never thought I might be with the tea party, but son of gun their stand for personal freedom looks good right about now.

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