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Is an Internet Kill Switch Feasible In the US? 339

wiredmikey writes "The 'Kill Switch' bill will introduce legislation that would give the US government power to limit Internet traffic in the event of cyber-security emergency. To recap recent events in Egypt, public political protests reached critical mass on January 25th and on January 27th, Internet connectivity and access across the region began plummeting ultimately leading to a five-day blackout. The question remains: could the same approach be taken in the US?"
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Is an Internet Kill Switch Feasible In the US?

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  • by DoofusOfDeath ( 636671 ) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @12:46PM (#35151586)

    With the NSA (and others?) having the power to issue National Security Letters, we really don't know what the truth is regarding anything in this matter.

  • by KarlIsNotMyName ( 1529477 ) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @12:51PM (#35151654)

    Giving the same people who would put a man to death for letting someone speak out about what the US is actually up to, the power to shut down communications, is only good for those people, not the rest of the population.

    Free flow of information is a requirement for having a democracy.

  • by Ephemeriis ( 315124 ) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @01:11PM (#35151928)

    And of course, it's worth repeating for the thousandth time on this "kill switch" topic: what the administration wants isn't some button to push, but the legal authority to tell various players (service providers, carriers, software/service operators, etc) that they must immediately honor requests to change what they're doing in an emergency.

    So... Exactly like what was done in Egypt then?

  • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @01:13PM (#35151942)

    Say we get hard intel that sometime later that day, someone will be using Twitter or Gmail to issue timing commands to a bunch of people ready to drop off backpack bombs on metro trains in half a dozen large cities around the country.

    Or they might do it via cell phone, so you should shut down all cell phones too. Or they might do it by short wave radio, so lock that up. Or they might do it by mail, so get rid of the mail. Or they might even do it by voice, so let's get rid of all that sound-carrying air. Where, exactly, do you plan to stop? You can strip a nation of every single right it has, in the name of terrorism, and you still won't prevent it. However at some point YOU start being the bad guy. It's a big bad world out there. Take your lumps, get used to it, and get the hell out of my face.

  • by commodore6502 ( 1981532 ) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @01:15PM (#35151962)

    >>>someone will be using Twitter or Gmail

    To protest against President Agent Smith in the year 2018, and president smith doesn't want that, so he turns them off.

    Or to switch-off and (per the stated goals of a certain congressman). You made a noble attempt to make the "kill switch" sound good, but it really isn't. It's too much power in the hands of too few.

    While congress may have a legit argument to censor the public airwaves (i.e. block nudity reaching children), they have zero legitimacy to censor private websites, fed by private cables, into private homes. It's a private matter that should be handled at the level of the customer Not the hands of a few oligarchs.

  • Bill of Rights (Score:4, Insightful)

    by woboyle ( 1044168 ) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @01:19PM (#35152014)
    I think it is about time we added a new item to the Bill of Rights - the right to unfettered access to any communication medium (covers phone, mail, any electronic medium including Internet). The ability to communicate electronically is a necessity in this day and age. Any attempt to add a "kill switch" to the Internet should be considered no less that the attempt to stifle free speech via newspapers, posters, fliers, or simple personal contact.
  • by socsoc ( 1116769 ) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @01:20PM (#35152020)
    We've already ruined air travel. Might as well ruin our communication methods too. Face it, the terrorists have won, it's just that they are the gov instead of crazy bombers.
  • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @01:54PM (#35152494)

    You realize that, in a democracy, a politician with your opinion could not be elected?

    Of course not, because I am an honest man. So called democracies only elect crooks.

    Since your position is untenable in a democracy, why stick to it?

    Non sequitur. What does my opinion have to do with the form of government? Does government dictate opinions now? I am not allowed to think the way I do? No, I will stick to my position because it's my position. We don't have to agree. I don't even have to be right. But government be damned, and the bovine group-think be damned too.

    preaching against security in the face of terrorism isn't going to win the day.

    Terrorism is nothing new. Lock the damned cockpit doors of your planes with a serious lock, and you will never get 9/11 again. But no, the terrorism excuse can be used to fish around in your bank account, eavesdrop on your phone/internet sessions, seize or freeze your assets even when you have done nothing wrong. Because just the "suspicion" is enough. Why on earth would a government want to give up these powers? They are more addicting than crack. But tell me something, is the "war on terror" being lost, that these measures have to be considered? What happened to the "taking the fight to the enemy" excuse for invading Afghanistan (and later Iraq and now Pakistan)? After 10 years (almost twice as long as the second world war) you would think that some progress has been made and the "threat" of terrorism has decreased. Why do you feel you need more "security"? Or is it all just a bloody sham?

  • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @02:13PM (#35152758)

    Once you find out that's what's in play, do you not see value in being able to direct the carrier to shut down the tower they're using?

    By the time you figure that out, they've already done what they set out to do. The attacks only lasted about an hour before they barricaded themselves. I don't see how not having cell phones would have saved lives and frustrated this carefully planned assault. Their plan was to kill as many people as they could, not hold a teleconference.

    See the thing is the bad guy always, always has the advantage. The only time you can really prevent something is through careful surveillance BEFORE it happens. When the ball start rolling, there's not much you can do. Sure, cut off the phones. Paramedics and other first responders also use the phone system. Victims also use the phone system. So are you actually helping or making things worse?

    And as for the surveillance issue - perhaps soon it will be possible to eavesdrop and keep records and mine every single data source. Now how do you stop someone from saying "hey, since we have all this data anyway, let's go after other people too"? None of us are perfect. All of us have broken some law or other. We cannot live in a world that never forgives or forgets. And it becomes even worse when some elites have the ability to modify their records and the common man doesn't. And they will - after all that's what power IS.

    As for the internet - they killed the internet in Egypt. Did the problem go away? I am against nonsensical laws, and a kill switch makes no sense and it's proven NOT to work.

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling