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Internet Kill Switch Back On the US Legislative Agenda 376

Posted by timothy
from the reasonable-measures dept.
suraj.sun points out a story at Wired that US lawmakers have revived the idea of a government-controlled "Internet Kill Switch," which reads, in part: "The bill, which has bipartisan support, is being floated by Sen. Susan Collins, the Republican ranking member on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The proposed legislation, which Collins said would not give the president the same power Egypt's Hosni Mubarak is exercising to quell dissent, sailed through the Homeland Security Committee in December but expired with the new Congress weeks later. 'My legislation would provide a mechanism for the government to work with the private sector in the event of a true cyber emergency,' Collins said in an e-mail Friday. 'It would give our nation the best tools available to swiftly respond to a significant threat.'"
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Internet Kill Switch Back On the US Legislative Agenda

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  • It is just data! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mini me (132455) on Saturday January 29, 2011 @08:56PM (#35045682)

    You cannot hurt anyone with data. There is no such thing as a threat via the internet.

  • by webdog314 (960286) on Saturday January 29, 2011 @08:58PM (#35045704)

    Seems to me, the biggest threat would be doing EXACTLY what Mubarak is doing now in Egypt.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 29, 2011 @09:03PM (#35045750)

    than used for the intended purpose IMHO.

  • by commodore6502 (1981532) on Saturday January 29, 2011 @09:05PM (#35045762)

    P.S.

    It's also unconstitutional. I can not lay my hand on any power given to the Union Congress which allows them to shutdown the mail or the newspapers (old-fashioned type or modern websites/email). That power is reserved to the Member States.

    If they think Congress should have that power, let the states pass an amendment FIRST granting that power, rather than create an Egypt-type problem where some future Caesar/dictator can squash the people with a simple flip of the switch.

  • by DCFusor (1763438) on Saturday January 29, 2011 @09:08PM (#35045778) Homepage
    Nearly all that actions taken lately "for our security" are identical to the ones a government takes when it's afraid its people will revolt because (via that old psych tenet called projection) that's what they'd be doing had they been treated the way they are treating us.

    After all, who knows better how they've screwed us than the ones doing it?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 29, 2011 @09:12PM (#35045808)

    Because we'll only use it for your own good.

    They're the bad guys. You can trust us.

    We're looking out for you.

  • SneakerNet 2 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Saturday January 29, 2011 @09:13PM (#35045816)
    We(tech types) have to think about how to have an marginally working internet without the cooperation of the telcos. Off the top of my head I could see an entire city's wireless routers all sort of passing things along. The traceroute would be from hell but data would keep moving.
    I suspect that this is being developed right now by civil minded Egyptian programmers and engineers.
    It could also be used in disasters and whatnot.
    As long as a node here and there could contact the rest of the internet then various governments would lose the power presently exercised to evil ends in Egypt.
    Message me if anyone is serious about this and maybe something could be brewed up.
    PS I finally remembered my password.
  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Saturday January 29, 2011 @09:15PM (#35045832)

    I can't see any reasonable purpose for a government being able to shut down internet access in broad swathes; any internet "emergency" could (and would) realistically be handled quite well by the array of network providers involved in standing up the internet. Otherwise botnets would have killed us all long ago.

    The only substantial threat to the internet is censorship (whether by governments or corporations).

    Besides, we've already seen that our telecoms are all too eager to help the government with illegal spying upon the citizenry during an "emergency". What makes anyone think they would hesitate to pull the plug at that same government's behest?

  • Famous last words (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 29, 2011 @09:15PM (#35045836)

    "It's for your own good". Whenever a government uses those words you can assume with some confidence it's for their good and not yours.

  • by rs1n (1867908) on Saturday January 29, 2011 @09:16PM (#35045838)
    In light of the recent incident in Egypt, it seems that the real purpose of such a kill switch is more useful as a means of censorship (a la big scandals that could make the US look bad, like Wikileaks). On a local scale, if I know my network is about to be attacked, I would cut off the main entrance into my network, while leaving the inside up and running. If they insist on a kill switch, why not just implement a similar scheme for all the "gateways" into government networks? As for each citizen's own access, I don't need the government to unplug my computer for me -- I can do that by myself, and am capable of making the decision to do so myself.
  • by icebike (68054) on Saturday January 29, 2011 @09:17PM (#35045858)

    The timing is so dumb that one has to wonder.

    To bring that up now suggest the recent election turn around has scared Both Democrats and Republicans into believing Egypt could happen here, and rather fix the problem they react with police state measures.

    Or was this on track all along, with hopes of sneaking it through, and the mainstream press just finally took notice?
    In which case it may well be DOA already.

  • by beanbrew (1924590) on Saturday January 29, 2011 @09:26PM (#35045914)

    "An example, the aide said, would require infrastructure connected to “the system that controls the floodgates to the Hoover dam” to cut its connection to the net if the government detected an imminent cyber attack."

    Am I the only one who wonders what that kind of system is doing connected to the internet in the first place? Seems to me that if you want to protect infrastructure, the easiest and most sensible thing to do would be to unplug the ethernet cable.

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday January 29, 2011 @09:52PM (#35046036) Journal

    You cannot hurt anyone with data. There is no such thing as a threat via the internet.

    Ya, nevermind that whole, 'pen is mightier than the sword' thing. It's exactly because data is so powerful that unsavory characters want to stop it. I don't know what is motivating these Homeland Security creatures, but it isn't a sane concern for their fellow men.

  • by Baseclass (785652) on Saturday January 29, 2011 @10:14PM (#35046178)
    We should start developing contingency plans to thwart a potential internet blackout.
    International dial-up, data feeds over the airways, carrier pigeon...whatever.
    Why are they asking for this if they don't have some kind of plan in store. Terrorism 2.0 perhaps, as the fear of conventional terrorism has faded quite a bit since 2001.
  • Biparitsan (Score:5, Insightful)

    by amiga3D (567632) on Saturday January 29, 2011 @11:01PM (#35046400)

    Amazing how the really bad shit always has bi-partisan support. More and more it becomes obvious that we really need a viable third party.

  • by Jason Levine (196982) on Saturday January 29, 2011 @11:17PM (#35046492)

    Actually, you can hurt people with data. Mainly, people in power. And that's what they're afraid of.

  • by causality (777677) on Saturday January 29, 2011 @11:30PM (#35046570)

    Note: I have no doubt the Government ALREADY has the means to cause a similar shutdown at their disposal, its just that doing so would be illegal. It would only take a little bit of BGP route poisoning to accomplish the same thing.

    I suspect this is a lot like Bush's warrentless wiretapping: it has been there for a long time now -- the legislation in question is merely a formality attempting to legitimize it. Consider it "retroactive immunity" for the possession of an Internet kill-switch.

  • Well, actually it does appear to be. The actual article gives as an example the removal of critical government systems from access, not limiting citizen access to the internet. Admittedly it is still a stupid sounding idea since you don't need a single kill switch, as the article also points out. It is definitely good to be skeptical and to keep a close eye on government abuse, but this doesn't seem like what everyone is jumping to make it out to be.

  • by Fluffeh (1273756) on Sunday January 30, 2011 @12:58AM (#35046958)

    No offence, but I think that for the most part, you Americans have lost the freedoms that you all tout - you just aren't aware of it properly yet.

    You get fondled to get onto a plane, you can't protest the President anywhere near where anyone can see it and so many other things. Sure, you might still have the right to carry guns for the most part, but you have lost the freedoms that really matter.

    For the most part, actually, so has the rest of the world. Such are the times we live in heh.

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