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Say No To a Government Internet "Kill Switch"

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the terrible-ideas-make-me-sad dept.

Privacy 433

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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433 comments

Does the U.S. really want to be like China or Iran (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32677394)

Yes.

Re:Does the U.S. really want to be like China or I (4, Insightful)

TrisexualPuppy (976893) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Does the U.S. really want to be like China or I (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32677434)

Yes.

qft

Re:Does the U.S. really want to be like China or I (5, Funny)

boneclinkz (1284458) | more than 3 years ago | (#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:Does the U.S. really want to be like China or I (2, Funny)

Vectormatic (1759674) | more than 3 years ago | (#32677994)

Inject Kurt Russel with some 24-hour timed explosive, give him some high tech gear and send him on a mission to the data-center?

Re:Does the U.S. really want to be like China or I (0, Troll)

howardd21 (1001567) | more than 3 years ago | (#32678114)

Maybe China asked the US Govt to install this as a final step before complete take over. They already own most of the US anyway.

To quote Bruce Schneier: (5, Insightful)

Inf0phreak (627499) | more than 3 years ago | (#32677410)

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

Re:To quote Bruce Schneier: (4, Insightful)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#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).

Re:To quote Bruce Schneier: (5, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#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 (5, Insightful)

nten (709128) | more than 3 years ago | (#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:To quote Bruce Schneier: (1)

tattood (855883) | more than 3 years ago | (#32678224)

just one subnet, or just one link, or just one server..

The way the flow of information on the Internet works, that won't really do. Once one site gets the information out, others can very easily get it from an RSS feed and post the same information. They are going to be shutting off a lot of little subnets/servers, and only after they notice the information has been re-posted.

Re:To quote Bruce Schneier: (4, Insightful)

c0d3g33k (102699) | more than 3 years ago | (#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:To quote Bruce Schneier: (2, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | more than 3 years ago | (#32677654)

"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 else), telephones (easily tapped conversations, US and elsewhere), cell phones (owner easily located, US and elsewhere)? OCR, face recognition?

Re:To quote Bruce Schneier: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32677760)

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

We may need this switch to help the fight the war on economic reform, or disease.

Re:To quote Bruce Schneier: (4, Insightful)

Feyshtey (1523799) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Your official guide to the Jigaboo presidency (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32677412)

Congratulations on your purchase of a brand new nigger! If handled properly, your apeman will give years of valuable, if reluctant, service.

INSTALLING YOUR NIGGER.
You should install your nigger differently according to whether you have purchased the field or house model. Field niggers work best in a serial configuration, i.e. chained together. Chain your nigger to another nigger immediately after unpacking it, and don't even think about taking that chain off, ever. Many niggers start singing as soon as you put a chain on them. This habit can usually be thrashed out of them if nipped in the bud. House niggers work best as standalone units, but should be hobbled or hamstrung to prevent attempts at escape. At this stage, your nigger can also be given a name. Most owners use the same names over and over, since niggers become confused by too much data. Rufus, Rastus, Remus, Toby, Carslisle, Carlton, Hey-You!-Yes-you!, Yeller, Blackstar, and Sambo are all effective names for your new buck nigger. If your nigger is a ho, it should be called Latrelle, L'Tanya, or Jemima. Some owners call their nigger hoes Latrine for a joke. Pearl, Blossom, and Ivory are also righteous names for nigger hoes. These names go straight over your nigger's head, by the way.

CONFIGURING YOUR NIGGER
Owing to a design error, your nigger comes equipped with a tongue and vocal chords. Most niggers can master only a few basic human phrases with this apparatus - "muh dick" being the most popular. However, others make barking, yelping, yapping noises and appear to be in some pain, so you should probably call a vet and have him remove your nigger's tongue. Once de-tongued your nigger will be a lot happier - at least, you won't hear it complaining anywhere near as much. Niggers have nothing interesting to say, anyway. Many owners also castrate their niggers for health reasons (yours, mine, and that of women, not the nigger's). This is strongly recommended, and frankly, it's a mystery why this is not done on the boat

HOUSING YOUR NIGGER.
Your nigger can be accommodated in cages with stout iron bars. Make sure, however, that the bars are wide enough to push pieces of nigger food through. The rule of thumb is, four niggers per square yard of cage. So a fifteen foot by thirty foot nigger cage can accommodate two hundred niggers. You can site a nigger cage anywhere, even on soft ground. Don't worry about your nigger fashioning makeshift shovels out of odd pieces of wood and digging an escape tunnel under the bars of the cage. Niggers never invented the shovel before and they're not about to now. In any case, your nigger is certainly too lazy to attempt escape. As long as the free food holds out, your nigger is living better than it did in Africa, so it will stay put. Buck niggers and hoe niggers can be safely accommodated in the same cage, as bucks never attempt sex with black hoes.

FEEDING YOUR NIGGER.
Your Nigger likes fried chicken, corn bread, and watermelon. You should therefore give it none of these things because its lazy ass almost certainly doesn't deserve it. Instead, feed it on porridge with salt, and creek water. Your nigger will supplement its diet with whatever it finds in the fields, other niggers, etc. Experienced nigger owners sometimes push watermelon slices through the bars of the nigger cage at the end of the day as a treat, but only if all niggers have worked well and nothing has been stolen that day. Mike of the Old Ranch Plantation reports that this last one is a killer, since all niggers steal something almost every single day of their lives. He reports he doesn't have to spend much on free watermelon for his niggers as a result. You should never allow your nigger meal breaks while at work, since if it stops work for more than ten minutes it will need to be retrained. You would be surprised how long it takes to teach a nigger to pick cotton. You really would. Coffee beans? Don't ask. You have no idea.

MAKING YOUR NIGGER WORK.
Niggers are very, very averse to work of any kind. The nigger's most prominent anatomical feature, after all, its oversized buttocks, which have evolved to make it more comfortable for your nigger to sit around all day doing nothing for its entire life. Niggers are often good runners, too, to enable them to sprint quickly in the opposite direction if they see work heading their way. The solution to this is to *dupe* your nigger into working. After installation, encourage it towards the cotton field with blows of a wooden club, fence post, baseball bat, etc., and then tell it that all that cotton belongs to a white man, who won't be back until tomorrow. Your nigger will then frantically compete with the other field niggers to steal as much of that cotton as it can before the white man returns. At the end of the day, return your nigger to its cage and laugh at its stupidity, then repeat the same trick every day indefinitely. Your nigger comes equipped with the standard nigger IQ of 75 and a memory to match, so it will forget this trick overnight. Niggers can start work at around 5am. You should then return to bed and come back at around 10am. Your niggers can then work through until around 10pm or whenever the light fades.

ENTERTAINING YOUR NIGGER.
Your nigger enjoys play, like most animals, so you should play with it regularly. A happy smiling nigger works best. Games niggers enjoy include: 1) A good thrashing: every few days, take your nigger's pants down, hang it up by its heels, and have some of your other niggers thrash it with a club or whip. Your nigger will signal its intense enjoyment by shrieking and sobbing. 2) Lynch the nigger: niggers are cheap and there are millions more where yours came from. So every now and then, push the boat out a bit and lynch a nigger.

Lynchings are best done with a rope over the branch of a tree, and niggers just love to be lynched. It makes them feel special. Make your other niggers watch. They'll be so grateful, they'll work harder for a day or two (and then you can lynch another one). 3) Nigger dragging: Tie your nigger by one wrist to the tow bar on the back of suitable vehicle, then drive away at approximately 50mph. Your nigger's shrieks of enjoyment will be heard for miles. It will shriek until it falls apart. To prolong the fun for the nigger, do *NOT* drag him by his feet, as his head comes off too soon. This is painless for the nigger, but spoils the fun. Always wear a seatbelt and never exceed the speed limit. 4) Playing on the PNL: a variation on (2), except you can lynch your nigger out in the fields, thus saving work time. Niggers enjoy this game best if the PNL is operated by a man in a tall white hood. 5) Hunt the nigger: a variation of Hunt the Slipper, but played outdoors, with Dobermans. WARNING: do not let your Dobermans bite a nigger, as they are highly toxic.

DISPOSAL OF DEAD NIGGERS.
Niggers die on average at around 40, which some might say is 40 years too late, but there you go. Most people prefer their niggers dead, in fact. When yours dies, report the license number of the car that did the drive-by shooting of your nigger. The police will collect the nigger and dispose of it for you.

COMMON PROBLEMS WITH NIGGERS - MY NIGGER IS VERY AGGRESIVE
Have it put down, for god's sake. Who needs an uppity nigger? What are we, short of niggers or something?

MY NIGGER KEEPS RAPING WHITE WOMEN
They all do this. Shorten your nigger's chain so it can't reach any white women, and arm heavily any white women who might go near it.

WILL MY NIGGER ATTACK ME?
Not unless it outnumbers you 20 to 1, and even then, it's not likely. If niggers successfully overthrew their owners, they'd have to sort out their own food. This is probably why nigger uprisings were nonexistent (until some fool gave them rights).

MY NIGGER BITCHES ABOUT ITS "RIGHTS" AND "RACISM".
Yeah, well, it would. Tell it to shut the fuck up.

MY NIGGER'S HIDE IS A FUNNY COLOR. - WHAT IS THE CORRECT SHADE FOR A NIGGER?
A nigger's skin is actually more or less transparent. That brown color you can see is the shit your nigger is full of. This is why some models of nigger are sold as "The Shitskin".

MY NIGGER ACTS LIKE A NIGGER, BUT IS WHITE.
What you have there is a "wigger". Rough crowd. WOW!

IS THAT LIKE AN ALBINO? ARE THEY RARE?
They're as common as dog shit and about as valuable. In fact, one of them was President between 1992 and 2000. Put your wigger in a cage with a few hundred genuine niggers and you'll soon find it stops acting like a nigger. However, leave it in the cage and let the niggers dispose of it. The best thing for any wigger is a dose of TNB.

MY NIGGER SMELLS REALLY BAD
And you were expecting what?

SHOULD I STORE MY DEAD NIGGER?
When you came in here, did you see a sign that said "Dead nigger storage"? .That's because there ain't no goddamn sign.

Isn't it obvious (5, Informative)

guruevi (827432) | more than 3 years ago | (#32677414)

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

Re:Isn't it obvious (4, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#32677450)

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:Isn't it obvious (2, Funny)

Darkenole (149792) | more than 3 years ago | (#32677832)

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

Re:Isn't it obvious (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32678082)

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.

so how does he stay in office then??

To play Devil's advocate here... (3, Interesting)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#32677416)

...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?

Re:To play Devil's advocate here... (4, Insightful)

Xacid (560407) | more than 3 years ago | (#32677494)

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.

Re:To play Devil's advocate here... (4, Insightful)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | more than 3 years ago | (#32677498)

...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:To play Devil's advocate here... (2, Insightful)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 3 years ago | (#32677518)

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".

Re:To play Devil's advocate here... (1)

SweeBeeps (1827982) | more than 3 years ago | (#32677526)

True, but the average citizen has no ability to do any outgoing communication with TV and radio, whereas the internet is linked with numerous avenues of communication to a variety of sources. This could cut basic lines to a number of people for important things too (911 etc).

Re:To play Devil's advocate here... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#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:To play Devil's advocate here... (2, Interesting)

Ron Bennett (14590) | more than 3 years ago | (#32677756)

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 (5, Interesting)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 3 years ago | (#32677878)

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.

Re:To play Devil's advocate here... (1)

Fujisawa Sensei (207127) | more than 3 years ago | (#32678106)

...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?

Does that disable your phone line?

Its a protocol (1, Redundant)

BigJClark (1226554) | more than 3 years ago | (#32677420)


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

Re:Its a protocol (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#32677652)

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

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

Re:Its a protocol (1)

BigJClark (1226554) | more than 3 years ago | (#32677796)


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 (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32677432)

Maybe we need a switch to turn off the government?

Re:Hmm (1)

bobcat7677 (561727) | more than 3 years ago | (#32678070)

I would definitely let my 2 year old play with that switch. That would be as much for for me as it would be for her.

Seriously though, there does need to be some type of consequences for leaders who violate the constitution/laws, make bad decisions, and spend our money frivolously. Right now the worst we can do is vote them out and bring a law suit to try to reverse whatever evil they imposed. I mean imagine if you were part owner of a company and the CEO funneled vast amounts of the company's money into other companies that he owned, did some insider trading, used company lawyers on company payroll to take legal action on his personal cases, and spent all the company's money on dumb stuff like lifetime supplies of fast food for all employees. Then imagine that the only consequence available for all that crap was to fire him and bring a lawsuit that seeks to "undo" everything (which of course is impossible). No criminal charges for embezzling, fraud, and not even monetary damages for all the money that was blown. That is exactly the corporate version of how our government currently works.

Waxing playful once again (but still remaining mostly-serious), I would LOVE to have a button that activates mechanical boots that kick each politician in the nuts every time they do something unconstitutional, illegal, or unjust. To be equal opportunity (and create jobs), just hire some people to slap all the women politicians at the same time.

What good is... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32677438)

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

In Soviet Russia... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32677452)

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.
g=

Re:In Soviet Russia... (2, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#32677564)

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."

Re:In Soviet Russia... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32678110)

No, we're a dictatorship of the corporations. That's why people who wonder at capitalistic dictatorships are so funny, they don't realize that's what the corporates want, that's fascism when a fascist country isn't at war.

For government, by government (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Local law, global impact? (4, Insightful)

Cimexus (1355033) | more than 3 years ago | (#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).

Re:Local law, global impact? (1)

FriendlyLurker (50431) | more than 3 years ago | (#32677862)

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 area can up/download video's of all the body bag's they are racking up in the zone.

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

They invented some of the core protocol's, which are now international standards. That should not in general give anyone the right to now turn around and take their open standard back.

Re:Local law, global impact? (5, Interesting)

swordgeek (112599) | more than 3 years ago | (#32677908)

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:Local law, global impact? (1)

Elbowgeek (633324) | more than 3 years ago | (#32678068)

I think this may also be meant to work the other way, to wit: Should an extreme cyber attack be detected on a particularly sensitive system in a facility vital to national security, the government would want to be able to cut off access to it immediately. At least that's one scenario I can envisage...

But cheer for "net neutrality" controls (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32677512)

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.

Why does this quote keep coming back to me (5, Insightful)

DragonFodder (712772) | more than 3 years ago | (#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:Why does this quote keep coming back to me (2, Interesting)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#32677932)

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?

We already have this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32677548)

Or at least I do whenever I trip over the power cord of my router...BAM, Internet kill switch.

"cyber 9/11" (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#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:"cyber 9/11" (1)

mdm-adph (1030332) | more than 3 years ago | (#32678056)

As former Senator from Alaska Ted Stevens showed us, the only real threat to the intertubes is gambling -- all except horse racing/betting. As long as the terrorists choose something other than horseback for their preferred method of travel, clogging the intertubes entirely would be painfully easy.

Better plan (5, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#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 (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#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:Better plan (2, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#32677854)

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

Re:Better plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32678004)

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?

You realize you're referring to the military network that everyone else was eventually given access to, right?

rolls eyes (5, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#32677600)

"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

Re:rolls eyes (5, Insightful)

Pedersen (46721) | more than 3 years ago | (#32677934)

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.

Re:rolls eyes (1)

orthicviper (1800010) | more than 3 years ago | (#32678010)

i'd rather there be a warhol worm than an internet/ISP kill switch in the hands of our government. we may really need internet protection one day from the government. not that it matters since we no longer have rule of law. they could probably use the "commerce clause" to justify a kill switch anyway. i think paranoia of the government is one of the best things our society has. the more hysterical twits the better.

try to understand this: (3, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#32678130)

if hysterical twits are the public face of the fight for liberties and freedoms then the fight for liberties and freedoms is discredited in the eyes of the public

if you are not intelligent in your advocacy for your cause, the ultimate sum total real world effect of your passion might be nothing more than to hurt your cause

"the more hysterical twits the better"

the more people who think that, the more our liberties and freedoms are doomed. really, that's the solid truth of the matter

please try to understand that when you write words like you have written above, you only aid those who wish to take away your liberties and freedoms. if you are not intelligent in your advocacy for your cause, you might as well be working for your ideological enemy, because the real world effect is the same

be smart, or shut up. because you hurt what i care about

Re:rolls eyes (0, Flamebait)

thijsh (910751) | more than 3 years ago | (#32678160)

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

This is so true... for all areas I can think of right now there are people that fit exactly that profile and hurt our good cause, for example:
- Enviromentalists (do more harm to environment than they even know, overly complaining about visible oil on the surface killing some birds only forces them to use more toxic dispersants that are more dangerous to the ecosystem than the oil. Ignorant hippies!)
- Privacy advocates (complaining that extra camera's reduce privacy even further while the opposite should be true, a ridiculous amount of camera's can never be watched so i'd worry more about 1 than 1000. Paranoid fucks!)
- Free-speech advocates (always complaining that free speech means 'anything can be said', and then add: well anything except that 'one hurtful thing' they personally don't like. Hypocritical bastards!)

Fuck em all, bunch of misguided motherfuckers. The only way to really change something is indeed like you said: be prudent and intelligent or don't bother.
I apologize for the rather harsh language, but it's been a long day and thinking about self righteous do-gooders that actually fuck shit up even worse pisses me off...

Re:rolls eyes (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 3 years ago | (#32678216)

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

That's like saying death is a good cure for cancer.

If you want arbitrary, ridiculously unenforceable mandates in the name of security, just outlaw Windows on internet machines.

Freedom is just a word. (5, Insightful)

cfulton (543949) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Freedom is just a word. (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 3 years ago | (#32677740)

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 (2, Informative)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 3 years ago | (#32677610)

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.

If the USA really was in deep shit . . . (4, Insightful)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#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 . . . ?

Disruption of communication... (2, Insightful)

morphotomy (1655417) | more than 3 years ago | (#32677626)

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?

Slashdot trails talk radio? (1)

PurplePhase (240281) | more than 3 years ago | (#32677648)

I don't listen to much radio, but this was the topic of a local morning call-in show on... Tuesday? I was happy that 4 of 5 thought it is an inane idea for one reason or another (or none given..), yet #5 still said she didn't care what the government does to protect us.

Or is the point here that Snyder put together a rebuttal of whatever quality?

8-PP

Not News (1)

baptiste (256004) | more than 3 years ago | (#32677660)

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 an easy answer

War? Really? (1)

thestudio_bob (894258) | more than 3 years ago | (#32677672)

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?

Re:War? Really? (1)

morphotomy (1655417) | more than 3 years ago | (#32677964)

Nope, we know something they dont, we understand the internet. Thats precisely why they want to control it.

Control, Control, Control. (5, Insightful)

blcamp (211756) | more than 3 years ago | (#32677690)

"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".

Re:Control, Control, Control. (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 3 years ago | (#32678030)

An "emergency" will eventually become when the media makes disparaging remarks about whatever administration is in power. That will be deemed a threat to national security...

The slippery slope is a fallacy except when the government is concerned.

Joe Lieberman (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32677706)

This only serves to confirm my opinion of Joe Lieberman as a sentient piece of shit.

South Park claimed it was Bono (1)

tekrat (242117) | more than 3 years ago | (#32677884)

But nevertheless, I agree.
How this douchebag got re-elected, I have no idea. The voters of CT must be insane. This man is a danger to everything we hold dear in this country.

Hmmm... (5, Insightful)

Que914 (1042204) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

Jimmy King (828214) | more than 3 years ago | (#32677928)

that the CEO of the only telephone company who told the NSA they needed a warrant is now in jail,

Huh? What did I miss? I'm going to go hit up google, but could you provide a link or some more info in case my endeavor fails?

part of democracy is free speech (1)

sneilan (1416093) | more than 3 years ago | (#32677728)

the government and its people will always have some horrible ideas. I would be scared if something like this was actually implemented. Not if people in the government are just 'considering' it.

Let them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32677754)

I fully want this to happen. Let the Yanks destroy themselves :)

Stupids :)

Maybe it's the allergy meds, but (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#32677838)

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.

Imagine this (1)

SnugglesTheBear (1822258) | more than 3 years ago | (#32677844)

If this whole kill switch policy keeps getting more and more popular, big businesses will take interest in keeping limited network communications with one another in order to keep their money making power houses running. This will lead to them building their own infrastructure and eventually will have a small internet of their own. Soon they realize, they can make a shit ton of money with all this and start leasing it out to the public for a fee and then they are the new ISPs. The moral of the story is this, you can't stop the internet because the technology is there and many people know how to use and implement it. All these kill switches will lead to a more centralized business world. Can you imagine a Mc Donalds being an ISP? "Hey can I take your order? Would you like some internet with that value meal sir?"

Senator Lieberman (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32677868)

Lieberman's pushing it, he has a history of being a paid lacky of lost of industries:

http://www.prwatch.org/node/8781

He shilled against the health care reform, despite previously supporting it, New York Times thought it most likely was the result of the $1 million he received:

"Senator Lieberman has accepted more than $1 million from large, Connectucut-based health insurance companies"

A disruption in communications... (3, Funny)

tekrat (242117) | more than 3 years ago | (#32677956)

... 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.

Which administration is the worst? (1)

whizbang77045 (1342005) | more than 3 years ago | (#32677996)

OK, everybody, let's have a contest to see which political party can do the most to suppress liberty ... the Democrats or the Republicians?

I like this idea (2, Insightful)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

There's already a public Internet 'Kill Switch' (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32678134)

It's called Comcast.

Law needed for the freedom challenged (1)

xanthos (73578) | more than 3 years ago | (#32678164)

This is just an attempt to codify something that may or may not already be possible. Laws like this are useless in the context of day to day life and would only come into play in some type of emergency situation. There is a subset of the population that have a hard time with freedom and need the boundaries that laws and rules give them. This caters to them. They feel more secure because the law/rule is in place despite the fact that it will (or could) never be used. Whenever they feel threatened by the Internet they can rest assured that their friends in Washington can shut it down with the big red switch.

Then again, it may turn out to be the RIAA/MPAA 's nuclear option.

Cannot seal our borders but will seal the net? (2, Insightful)

howardd21 (1001567) | more than 3 years ago | (#32678166)

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.

Wow, things the gov't wants control over... (2, Interesting)

goobenet (756437) | more than 3 years ago | (#32678226)

In a word, GTFO. They're already trying to do this with radio and the fairness doctrine, and now trying to regulate reporters and journalists. I guess the only way to control the masses is to silence the masses. Though it could happen, the US is home to 7 (3 of which are at military installations?) of the 13 root servers. Pretty easy to just shut those down. Anyone feel like china/north korea yet?

Shutting down the economy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32678240)

If you try shutting down the Internet, I am pretty sure you will loose lots of business. Also you will loose confidence. If the world sees a black hole of information in the US, the money will be moved away pretty fast. I am not sure people have though this through. And if an entire nation somehow gets bored because Internet is down, what will they do? Maybe go outside and join the crowds in the streets?

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