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Emergency Government Control of the Internet? 853

TheZid writes "A newly proposed bill would give Uncle Sam the power to disconnect private sector computers from the internet in the event of a 'cyber security emergency.' As usual, our government is trying to take away our privacy by citing security. What actually counts as a 'Cyber-Security Emergency?' Does the president now have the option of disconnecting people when they disagree with his policies? How about disconnecting bloggers that criticize his health care reform? What counts as an emergency? Can political opponents be deemed a cyber-security emergency?"
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Emergency Government Control of the Internet?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 28, 2009 @02:08PM (#29233699)
    Yeah, great idea, have a big fat kill switch on the internet attached to the government. Then when some hacker hacks into the government and finds it (or reverse engineers the kill switch), boom goes the internet!

    There are actual REASONS for closing roads/airports and other physical entities. In an emergency they become unusable if people freak out and all try to flee like little lemmings.

    There's no good reason to shut off the internet unless someone finds a way to instantly pwn every machine without warning. And does anyone expect that to ever happen?
  • by east coast ( 590680 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @02:17PM (#29233841)
    You simple can't just "Turn it off" which is what many people are fearing.

    You obviously don't know the US government.

    While I agree that what you have posted of the bill looks pretty harmless this could be the beginning of a new slippery slope. This could lead to additions to ISP that would allow the government to lock all private user accounts, throttle bandwidth and/or throw domestic web servers off the grid.

    We've seen legislation passed with open ended restrictions and it's a scary to think what can happen from administration to administration with no more than a decree from one man. And with both the legislative and executive branch being under the control of one party it makes it all the worse.

    While I don't think it will pass I don't want to find out the hard way.
  • Re:Backwards (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Hadlock ( 143607 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @02:26PM (#29234023) Homepage Journal

    I'm forming the Steam Political Alliance to keep the government out of my Steam! I NEED my TF2. :shakes angry fist:
    Actually, I'm suprised HAMs haven't created a resiliant point to point civilian network yet. When the physical backbone goes down, I guess there's sattelite, but it's hard to beat point to point optical networks for mobility and reliability and hard to jam "frequencies" (unless it rains, or is cloudy, or...).

  • Re:Backwards (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SeeSp0tRun ( 1270464 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @02:27PM (#29234033) Journal
    I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see major cloud networks (along with gaming servers) outsourced to foreign countries. Similar to TPB whenever they get shut down or raided.
  • Obvious (Score:1, Interesting)

    by BCW2 ( 168187 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @02:33PM (#29234117) Journal
    The current Administration is afraid of the Citizens. I Wonder why that is? Could it be out of control spending? Congressional leaders(?) calling concerned people a rabble? Those same Congresscritters doing what they want in spite of the wishes of their districts?

    No wonder the far left are the ones who push for gun control, their policies are the ones that will cause armed insurrection.
  • Re:Backwards (Score:5, Interesting)

    by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @02:45PM (#29234311) Journal

    Ya know, Representative Ron Paul has a bill in Congress right now, which I do not recall the title, but it's basically the "Audit the Federal Reserve" bill to find-out where the 2+ trillion dollars went.

    Even though it has the signatures of 3/4 of the House, Nancy Pelosi and the other Democratic leadership refuses to let it onto the floor for an aye or nay vote.

    THAT'S our administration in action. They are protecting their corporate donators (the Fed, the Banks, et cetera) from audit, but finding ways to hassle the citizens. I feel like experiencing Bush Part 2.

  • by Ranakanth ( 1042560 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @02:51PM (#29234395)
    What's this? A call for level-headed consideration of an issue? Logic and reason have no place on teh interwebz! It's all supposed to be knee-jerk, name-calling and FUD! (jk)

    Honestly though, it's nice to see someone else who feels that way. I don't understand the rational of "Hey, these are critical services... So let's put it in the hands of the profiteering and penny-pinching private sector... 'Cause that's a GREAT idea for stability!"

    I'm not a socialist, nor a fan of big government, but, sometimes these sorts of things are by far the better (not saying "ideal") option.
  • by eth1 ( 94901 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @03:19PM (#29234809)

    Yup... It won't be "the end" until the government stops abiding by the election results (or starts fixing the elections). After that point, there's really no going back sans violence.

    I keep having this crazy idea that I should run for president in '12. It would be the "Kick the Politicians Out of Washington" campaign. I keep wondering if enough people are fed up enough with the establishment that a movement to kick them all out and replace them with "normal" people would actually work.

    My agenda:
    - Constitutional amendment: single-issue bills only. (reduce pork and make reps accountable for everything they vote on instead of being able to hide behind a "must pass" bill)
    - Constitutional amendment: 10 year sunset clause on ALL federal laws. (create an upper bound on the number of laws that the federal gov't can maintain)
    - Move elections to an instant-run-off system so voters don't feel they have to try to game the system
    - Move election day to July 4th. More people vote because they're off work. Can celebrate *getting* freedom and *keeping* it.

    That should get us some REAL change!

  • Re:Hands off! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by VeNoM0619 ( 1058216 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @03:52PM (#29235269)
    PSH, they could technically already do it. About a month ago, my internet had gone down. It was constantly going down, and every time I called them up, it was "a server was down" auto message for 3 states. It normally got fixed within a couple hours, until one time it took more than 6 hours and I called up pissed asking how the hell can an internet company as big as mediacom be down in 3 entire states, when the entire philosophy of the internet (2nd paragraph) [] was to route around damage.

    Obviously (or strangely) he yelled back that why would they put redundancy in a civilian network? That's right, apparently there's a kill switch for the "civilian internet" that allows you to take down at least 3 states with just 1 fiber cut. Seeing how they are a monopoly, I consider them the internet for these 3 states.

    I'm still a bit pissed off by it, only because I hold the belief that the internet was made to prevent censorship and damage.
  • by BobMcD ( 601576 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @04:03PM (#29235421)

    I suspect that finding those responsible and airing their crimes may just polarize America enough to take the action necessary to quickly recover from the crisis.

  • Re:Backwards (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hondo77 ( 324058 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @04:16PM (#29235565) Homepage

    "A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have" Gerald Ford

    Fixed that [] for you.

  • Re:Backwards (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 28, 2009 @04:20PM (#29235629)

    Some forget that in "the bush years", there was still a democratically controlled congress. Bush may have been full of stupid ideas, but it is the members of congress that ensured they became a reality.

  • by R2.0 ( 532027 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @04:34PM (#29235771)

    "just like the folks who've been brandishing guns outside the events."

    Another poster commented that they were not "brandishing", they were "carrying" - as in, holstered and exposed to plain view. I'm simply going to point out that what they were doing was also perfectly legal in the locations where this occurred.

    I would also point out that, for every person openly carrying a gun, there were probably 3 carrying concealed. We'll never know the real number, because they were carrying in secret, legally or illegally. So who is ACTUALLY more dangerous - the man you know has a gun, or the man you think doesn't?

    Oh wait - it's not about reality, but perception. I guess you can say that a lot about those "town hall meetings".

  • Re:Backwards (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @05:00PM (#29236091)
    Equating the conservative position within the current political landscape as an analog to the horror of what the Nazis did is not just ignorant, insidious, hateful hyperbole, it degrades the absolute horror of what was done and those it was done to.

    Were you delivering the same lecture to the (still!) foaming-at-the-mouth left wing talking heads, activists, and tantrum-having street screamers who couldn't go a week for eight years without calling the last president "BusHitler?" Were you?
  • Re:Backwards (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dark_requiem ( 806308 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @06:13PM (#29236989)
    I'd think the answer to your question should be obvious by now. We have political teams. Both sides play this game. You come up with a good example. Another is that of Cindy Shehan. She was a hero of the Dems and liberal independents when she was opposing Bush's war, but now that she's opposing Obama's war, despite the fact that it is the same unjustifiable war, she's a pariah to those former supporters. Principles have no place in government, and government has no place in a principled society.
  • by KingOfTheDustBunnies ( 125196 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @07:47PM (#29237941)

    Well, somebody's gotta run in 2012, and most of the likely candidates are not too appealing. Not sure about that name though: "President eth1" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue.

    Some thoughts on your agenda:

    - Constitutional amendment: single-issue bills only.

    I support the spirit of this proposal, but I worry that such an amendment would necessarily be so vague as to be easily abused. Who defines what an "issue" is? It's easy to imagine Congress defining "issue" very broadly and continuing to pass their over-9000-page porxtravaganzas, and one can also imagine a court defining issue very "narrowly" and striking down otherwise reasonable laws.

    - Constitutional amendment: 10 year sunset clause on ALL federal laws.

    The automatic-sunset idea is intriguing, but it's also prone to abuse. We would probably just acquire a new tradition, wherein a whole slew of laws are rubber-stamped for renewal on the first day of each Congress, with the only results being that some junior members get gavel practice and the poor President gets writer's cramp.

    (create an upper bound on the number of laws that the federal gov't can maintain)

    How do you choose what the upper bound should be? And what happens when the Elbonians invade and Congress can't declare war because they're already at quota? I tend to favor the approach of just sticking to the enumerated powers, although admittedly that hasn't worked out as well as one might have hoped.

    - Move elections to an instant-run-off system so voters don't feel they have to try to game the system

    I believe the advocates of instant runoff voting have the best of intentions but are betting on the wrong horse. IRV is the only widely proposed voting system that is arguably worse than our current system, and certainly it won't eliminate gaming the system. In my book, range voting is the best system, and approval voting is nearly as good, with the added bonus that it's very easy to understand and wouldn't require changing ballot designs (which could be relevant to persuading people to accept a change). For those who may be interested, Wikipedia has a pretty good set of articles [], and check out these pretty pictures [] of the bizarre things that can happen under IRV.

    - Move election day to July 4th. More people vote because they're off work. Can celebrate *getting* freedom and *keeping* it.

    Of course they're also on vacation, at barbecues, eating dozens of hot dogs, shooting off fireworks, etc. Many will be too busy loving America by means of combustible projectiles to love America by means of throwing the bums out.

  • Re:Hands off! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @08:27PM (#29238265) Homepage

    This move is horribly transparent.

    The evident reason is so that, in the event of social dissent or uprising, they can cut off the communication of those dissenting. See: Iran just a month ago.

    "Oh, it's been legal for years. Why would anyone care when they started to do it now if they didn't care when the law was passed?"

    Surely, though, the Democrats will not abuse this. Surely. We have nothing to worry about.

  • Re:Hands off! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bwcbwc ( 601780 ) on Saturday August 29, 2009 @12:13PM (#29243711)

    Actually, it's the protocol set (TCP/IP) that's designed to route around damage, not the internet. If every route between two nodes has to go over a particular physical link, it doesn't matter how robust your re-routing algorithm is. Don't need a "kill-switch" at all. A stray back-hoe is usually sufficient.

    Of course that doesn't make the CSR's response any less strange. Plenty of civilian networks have redundancy. There are plenty of different routes you can take from Dallas to Fort Worth. But the grain of truth is that civilian networks are rarely 100% redundant. Chop off all the bridges and tunnels leaving Manhattan and you can still get to Long Island from the mainland. But that doesn't do anything for the people actually IN Manhattan.

    I suspect that the "kill switch" in this case is that your ISP isn't paying their due to their backbone provider, so they get cut off from time to time until they pay up.

Doubt isn't the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith. - Paul Tillich, German theologian and historian