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Court: Homeland Security Must Disclose 'Internet Kill Switch'

timothy posted about 9 months ago | from the aw-do-I-have-ta? dept.

The Internet 228

An anonymous reader writes "The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) must disclose its plans for a so-called Internet 'kill switch,' a federal court ruled on Tuesday. The United States District Court for the District of Columbia rejected the agency's arguments that its protocols surrounding an Internet kill switch were exempt from public disclosure and ordered the agency to release the records in 30 days. However, the court left the door open for the agency to appeal the ruling."

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First po (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45423341)

First po

Re:First po (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45423421)

Not sure why this is -1, I thought it was clever.

Re:First po (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45423644)

it was almost clever but the title should have been complete

Re:First po (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45423650)

...because the "first-to-mod" enthusiasts are in such a rush to downmod any ac, they end up demonstrating their own incompetence....

Re: First po (1)

is not primary (2645335) | about 9 months ago | (#45423896)

Must resist modding down this insightful post. Must resist modding down this insightful post must resist

Re:First po (1, Troll)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 9 months ago | (#45423664)

It requires thought to put it in the context of this thread, which does not fit in with the Chinese Room response of most Slashdotters, who just regurgitate memetic responses based on symbol pushing, text and moderation being two separate output vectors.

Re:First po (2)

Qzukk (229616) | about 9 months ago | (#45423710)

Go back to your arithmetic tables, you thinking machine.

I doubt it (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45423353)

This is ridiculous - a bunch of hype. There's no such thing as an Internet kill sw

Re:I doubt it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45423462)

This is ridiculous - a bunch of hype. There's no such thing as an Internet kill sw

Ok course there is. Maybe not in a literal sense of pushing a button, but you can certainly kill all incoming and outgoing traffic from the US to other countries/continents. And guess what, a governemt has the authority to make it so.
He who controls (directly or through the force of law) the routers and backbones controls the internet.

Re:I doubt it (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 9 months ago | (#45423538)

Should sat phone owners expect a SWAT raid?

Re:I doubt it (2)

Phreakiture (547094) | about 9 months ago | (#45423672)

Who owns the satellites? Where are they (the owners, not the satellites) located? Can the US Government successfully pressure the owners to cause the satellites to be shut down? If so, then no, no raids will be necessary.

Re:I doubt it (1)

DocSavage64109 (799754) | about 9 months ago | (#45423750)

Who's to say they will only cut border links? Maybe they've cut off some town in Alabama right now while they kill the population and we'll never even know about it.

Re:I doubt it (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45423936)

who cares, its only alabama

Re:I doubt it (3, Funny)

DexterIsADog (2954149) | about 9 months ago | (#45424024)

Sure, they can get away with it in Alabama, but they don't dare try that in a region with some teeth... so to speak.

Re:I doubt it (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45424116)

That could only happen if Obama were willing to kill US citizens without a trial.

Re:I doubt it (5, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 9 months ago | (#45423774)

" a governemt has the authority to make it so."

Perhaps you are confusing power with authority. My government has the power to prevent me having any contact with the outside world. My government has no such authority.

Re:I doubt it (1)

kilodelta (843627) | about 9 months ago | (#45423860)

Agreed - and there are only a handful or peering sites in the U.S. so it'd be pretty easy to shut traffic internally down too.

Re:I doubt it (1)

edibobb (113989) | about 9 months ago | (#45423544)

Maybe not physically, but legally?

If there was a serious anti-DHS or anti-government movement forming over the internet, could DHS shut it down long enough to block the instigators and remove the offending information? Some people in the DHS would like control over everything that could threaten DHS.

Re:I doubt it (4, Interesting)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about 9 months ago | (#45424226)

I'm not sure how they'd do it physically. If we look at the internet for what it actually is by definition - a network is a bunch of computers connected to other computes, the internet is a bunch of networks connected to other networks - the internet is actually privately owned, even at the peering level of tier 1 ISP's.

I suppose you could bring it down by having the national guard (or whoever) commandeer a major NOC (network operations center) of a tier 1 ISP and then fudge the BGP tables of all of their major peering points worldwide (or nationwide if you prefer,) but the links wouldn't be physically broken. Other ISP's could compensate by just ignoring those peers. The customers of that ISP and its client ISPs would be down for sure, but not everybody.

I'm still trying to figure out why we even have a need for a kill switch. A terror attack on SCADA systems? Just require SCADA systems have a communications kill switch, then you don't need an internet kill switch.

Why always a back door (2)

Bucc5062 (856482) | about 9 months ago | (#45423375)

"However, the court left the door open for the agency to appeal the ruling.""

I never understand this thinking. I am under the impression that when a judgement goes against you, you can appeal the decision. The court is set up already for that thinking so what or how does this court do something different. When I read that I get the feeling that the "Court" felt ugly for their ruling and really really hopes that aggrieved party will appeal.

I do hope they don't or if they do, they fail for I would love to know about a switch that can "kill" the internet. A system designed to route around such devices.

 

Re:Why always a back door (1)

imnes (605429) | about 9 months ago | (#45423441)

I believe when a judgement is rendered "without prejudice" the door is open for appeal. If a judgement is rendered "with prejudice" then it cannot be appealed.

Re:Why always a back door (4, Informative)

Tango42 (662363) | about 9 months ago | (#45423510)

I think prejudice refers to whether or not you can make the claims again. If a claim is dismissed because it is without merit, it will usually be with prejudice, meaning any future claim on that point will be consisted pre-judged and dismissed. If a claim is dismissed due to some procedural issue, it may be without prejudice so you can try again later.

Whether or not you have leave to appeal is separate.

Re:Why always a back door (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45423452)

Journalists love that sentence for some reason.

Fact is, unless the decision is coming from the US Supreme Court, in a civil suit either party may appeal the ruling. (In a criminal case only the defendant may appeal).

Now, the court may well refuse to hear the appeal and it goes nowhere, and in fact that happens the majority of the time, but you can always give it a shot.

Unless it's too late such as pregnancy, release (0)

raymorris (2726007) | about 9 months ago | (#45424126)

Suppose a couple wanted to have a baby. They spent a year planing for a baby and trying to get pregnant. They get pregnant and they are decorating
the nursery, etc. Then, three months pregnant, she changes her mind and wants to kill the kid and go back to partying all night like she did in college.
Pretty quickly, it's going to be too late to appeal a decision either way.

Similarly a release of information case, such as this one. Once DHS has been forced to release the document, they can't effectively appeal to unrelease it.
In this case, "left the door open for the agency to appeal the ruling" means they have 30 days to appeal BEFORE they have to release the document.

Re:Why always a back door (4, Insightful)

bob_super (3391281) | about 9 months ago | (#45423504)

It depends whether you just kill DNS and wait for most users to give up, or want to kill everything at once and have to reach into the many central nodes that would bring the internet to its knees if they were off.

You don't need to take down that many major nodes for everybody else to become suddenly over-congested and fundamentally useless.

Re:Why always a back door (3, Insightful)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | about 9 months ago | (#45423620)

I never understand this thinking.

In the US, it seems to usually work like this:

politician: "I just got a shit ton of cash from KKK and Bros. to push for a new law so they can add raw sewage to their energy drink as a filler"
Judge:"Wtf? The FDA would never approve that!"
(Enter Bob. Head of FDA. Previous Monsanto lobbyist)
politician:"Hey bob, I'll vote for that new GMO corn thing to ride on the coattails of HSF.32 if you approve this thing for KKK Bros."
Bob:"It's a deal!"
Judge:"I'll never allow this. It's inhumane!"
Politician:"Fine, we'll go get a judge who will"
(Enter Bill, new judge. Previously a lawyer for large soft drink company)
Politician:"Here, sign this. The FDA approved it. We also worked out a deal to get more corn syrup in cola drinks"
Bill: *scribble scribble* -- "There you go."

Re:Why always a back door (4, Insightful)

DexterIsADog (2954149) | about 9 months ago | (#45424158)

In your scenario, a politician is arguing with a judge about a law the politician is supposedly *going to* introduce as a bill, and the judge is objecting that he, personally, will never allow that? Then the politician finds a judge to sign off on this bill approved by the head of the FDA (not even submitted to the legislature at that point), and boom, it's a law?

You've made a total hash of how the U.S. political and legal system work, and your scenario makes no sense at all. How in the world did this get modded insightful?

Just to clarify;
Politician writes bill.
Politician may look for co-sponsors to strengthen the bill's chances.
Politician proposes bill, or attaches it as an amendment to some other bill.
Legislature debates bill and passes it or not.
Bill becomes law.
FDA, private citizens, or other interested parties may choose to sue to overturn the law.
THEN the judiciary gets involved.

Re:Why always a back door (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45424266)

And you've made a total hash of how it's supposed to work vice how it really works.

Re:Why always a back door (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 9 months ago | (#45423660)

I never understand this thinking. I am under the impression that when a judgement goes against you, you can appeal the decision.

My exceedingly limited understanding (IANAL) is it leaves them open to appeal based on specific points of law not initially addressed in the ruling.

So if someone said "we object to X", and they rule on that, that's what the ruling is about. I think this leaves them room to come back and say "but we can do X because of Y and you're wrong", and then the court can rule if the argument makes sense.

I think very often courts are ruling on a specific point of law, and the ruling only applies to that narrow scope. The broader issue may still be litigated.

Or something like that.

Court granted 30 days to appeal before releasing (2)

raymorris (2726007) | about 9 months ago | (#45423930)

DHS was granted 30 days before they have to release the document, to allow time for an appeal.

You can always appeal, but it sometimes an appeal would be pointless because it would be too late.
In this case, plaintiff wants a document released. Normally, that would mean the document would be released immediately.
How do you appeal a decision to release a document AFTER it's been released, though? Plaintiff is going to publish the information.
If DHS wins the appeal, would plaintiff be ordered to unpublish it?

In such cases, a court will grant a "stay", meaning everything stays as it is until the appeals court gets the case or time runs out.

Re:Why always a back door (2)

Captain_Chaos (103843) | about 9 months ago | (#45424032)

The court is set up already for that thinking so what or how does this court do something different.

What they mean is that the court stayed their decision (postponed the time at which it would come into force) to give the DHS time to appeal.

When I read that I get the feeling that the "Court" felt ugly for their ruling and really really hopes that aggrieved party will appeal.

No, it's pretty standard in cases where a) the court thinks the party who lost might appeal, b) there is at least an outside chance such an appeal might succeed and c) if they didn't stay their decision the appeal would become moot since in the mean time the losing party would have to (in this case) hand over the information and there would be no point in appealing. It's to protect the integrity of the judiciary system. Otherwise, what would be the point of having appeals?

Who woulda thunk it? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45423389)

Just keep voting for the one-party-scam, suckers. You deserve whatever you get at this point.

Re:Who woulda thunk it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45423502)

And what planet do you live on where any one of 3 political parties can form a governments by itself?

Re: Who woulda thunk it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45424164)

Canada

Gutless decision... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45423439)

"However, the court left the door open for the agency to appeal the ruling.".

Cowardly court, kicking the can down the road to some other judge while refusing the take responsibility. Shameful.

Good luck with that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45423464)

The Elders of the Internet would never approve of such a thing.

Re:Good luck with that (5, Funny)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about 9 months ago | (#45423602)

Let's just hope Jen doesn't drop the internet box.

Let's talk about the more interesting thing here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45423468)

If you were the US Government, how would you go about completely (or functionally completely) shutting off the Internet? Could it be done?

Re:Let's talk about the more interesting thing her (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 9 months ago | (#45423520)

If you were the US Government, how would you go about completely (or functionally completely) shutting off the Internet? Could it be done?

Considering that the US government has nigh exclusive control over the core DNS servers (not to mention countless backdoors in every ISP's terminal room), yea, it could totally be done.

Re:Let's talk about the more interesting thing her (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45423616)

If you were the US Government, how would you go about completely (or functionally completely) shutting off the Internet? Could it be done?

Considering that the US government has nigh exclusive control over the core DNS servers (not to mention countless backdoors in every ISP's terminal room), yea, it could totally be done.

Of just have the FBI show up at TW, Comcast, ATT, Verizon, and the rest of the ISP, with a FISA warrant covering an executive order to shutdown all routers. No appeal, no notice, just hit the EPO button on the wall.

Bet the FBI could have the US without any internet activity in less than an hour.

Re:Let's talk about the more interesting thing her (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45423684)

But could they shut off the rest of the world as well?

Re:Let's talk about the more interesting thing her (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45424212)

Does it matter? By the time things have gotten that bad we're pretty much shooting at each other anyway.

Re:Let's talk about the more interesting thing her (3, Interesting)

heypete (60671) | about 9 months ago | (#45424030)

There's plenty of DNS servers (both root servers, gTLD servers, and ccTLD servers) located outside of US jurisdiction.

While an unexpected shutdown could certainly cause some disruption both inside and outside the US, I'm not sure how effective a global DNS shutdown would be -- there's been significant fractions of the root DNS infrastructure that's been taken offline due to attacks in the past and the system continued to work without interruption. Even if there was a disruption, it's likely that non-US operators of root/gTLD/ccTLD servers would setup workarounds fairly quickly and the rest of the world would go about its business.

Anyway, it's something the government could ever do *once*. The instant they do it, the world changes and would highly unlikely to depend on a system managed by a single country.

Shutting down something like Google, for example, would likely be far more disruptive.

Re:Let's talk about the more interesting thing her (2)

duke_cheetah2003 (862933) | about 9 months ago | (#45424076)

If you were the US Government, how would you go about completely (or functionally completely) shutting off the Internet? Could it be done?

Considering that the US government has nigh exclusive control over the core DNS servers (not to mention countless backdoors in every ISP's terminal room), yea, it could totally be done.

I was under the impression the internet by its very design would route around 'problems.' Can the US Government really shut down every pipe? DNS is irrelevant, in my opinion. It's important, no doubt, but shutting DNS does not shut the internet. Just makes it substantially harder to use.

Re:Let's talk about the more interesting thing her (4, Insightful)

SecurityGuy (217807) | about 9 months ago | (#45423718)

If I were the US Government, I wouldn't bother about shutting off the Internet, I'd bother about getting people to stop attaching critical infrastructure to it. The internet is not and was never designed to be a secure network. It's a lot more like a common sewer.

Re:Let's talk about the more interesting thing her (2)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 9 months ago | (#45423868)

You obviously have an Intelligence Quotient higher than your shoe size. To bad the top echelons of "management" in this country can't say the same. Our cyber security looks like an episode of Keystone Cops, updated with technological gadgets.

Re:Let's talk about the more interesting thing her (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 9 months ago | (#45423738)

If you kill all of the people, the posting stops. Consider the fact that the only time the internet can actually harm the government rather than help it is during a revolution. Governments' war on its own people continues.

Re:Let's talk about the more interesting thing her (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45423952)

Give Mudge [wikipedia.org] a terminal, a case of beer, and 30 minutes.

Re:Let's talk about the more interesting thing her (3, Funny)

rock_climbing_guy (630276) | about 9 months ago | (#45424036)

Dude, the US Government was able to get malware planted in Iranian centrifuge controllers that were supposed to be air-gapped. I wouldn't be surprised in Windows 8 is pre-programmed to cut itself off the internet when the spooks say so.

Re:Let's talk about the more interesting thing her (1)

minstrelmike (1602771) | about 9 months ago | (#45424146)

Dude, the US Government was able to get malware planted in Iranian centrifuge controllers that were supposed to be air-gapped. I wouldn't be surprised in Windows 8 is pre-programmed to cut itself off the internet when the spooks say so.

The Blue Screen of Dominance.

My windows is able to shut itself off from the internet at random.

internet detonated bombs? please... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45423486)

they want to be able to shut off the internet in case some huge mob of pissed off unemployed people tries to flashmob capitol.

Mesh Networks (2)

RandomUsername99 (574692) | about 9 months ago | (#45423492)

Not ever really having considered this scenario before, I may be missing some pitfalls that are obvious to other people, but it seems like a consumer-level mesh network might be a good solution to a scenario where they are actually able to develop an internet kill switch, especially in cities, where the space between nodes would (hopefully) be small. I know, at least at the beginning, the OLPC project was using something. Would that be viable? What other technologies are worth pursuing in this vein, that are available right now?

Re:Mesh Networks (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about 9 months ago | (#45423622)

How does your proposed solution account for phone calls to ISP's ordering them to shut down.

Re:Mesh Networks (1)

Narcocide (102829) | about 9 months ago | (#45423654)

I on the other hand have contemplated this inevitable scenario extensively. My question is: What will they actually do in response if a completely consumer-driven, decentralized, mesh network gains actual popularity as an alternative to the then sadly effectively obsolete network they're trying to scuttle? Will they come for your wifi hotspots before or after they come for your guns?

Re:Mesh Networks (1)

rourin_bushi (816292) | about 9 months ago | (#45423830)

Does it matter which they come for first? Each will be defended with both.

Re:Mesh Networks (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 9 months ago | (#45423904)

They'll make one sweep to get both, then they'll loiter in suspicious areas with wardriving equipment and armored personnel carriers filled with swat teams. Fire up either your guns or your wifi, they'll be on you like stink on shite.

DHS Kill Switch? (2)

krept (697623) | about 9 months ago | (#45423496)

Can someone explain to me the benefit of an internet kill switch? And how DHS is the appropriate department for its implementation?

Re:DHS Kill Switch? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 9 months ago | (#45423540)

Can someone explain to me the benefit of an internet kill switch? And how DHS is the appropriate department for its implementation?

They could tell you, but they'd have to kill you.

I'm sure the official explanation would be that in the event of a widespread terrorist event (or some unspecified threat), they would need to shut down the internet to maintain public order.

Me, I'm sure it's mostly so they can maintain absolute control over everything just in case. It's all part of the plan to actually make 1984 and Brave New World come true.

Re:DHS Kill Switch? (5, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 9 months ago | (#45423570)

Real reason: So they can shut down the internet in the vicinity of major protests, and thus keep people from tweeting and streaming video when the police start firing tear gas into the crowd and breaking a few bones.

Re:DHS Kill Switch? (5, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 9 months ago | (#45423624)

Real reason: So they can shut down the internet in the vicinity of major protests, and thus keep people from tweeting and streaming video when the police start firing chemical weapons into the crowd and breaking a few bones.

FTFY.

Getting tired of society trying to wrap a nice, pretty bow on that particularly ugly duck.

Re:DHS Kill Switch? (2)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | about 9 months ago | (#45423746)

Fortunately CS gas, among other chemical weapons, was banned from use in war. There's plenty left for civilian pacification!

http://www.opcw.org/chemical-weapons-convention/articles/article-ii-definitions-and-criteria/ [opcw.org]

It's great! Spray this stuff on an enemy army and you end up in the Hague. Lob it at your citizens and everything is just fine.

Re:DHS Kill Switch? (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about 9 months ago | (#45423958)

It's great! Spray this stuff on an enemy army and you end up in the Hague. Lob it at your citizens and everything is just fine.

Except, the US is explicitly NOT a signatory to anything which would make them subject to the International Criminal Court [wikipedia.org] .

In other words, short of military action against the US to bring someone to justice ... nothing can happen. The US has specifically set themselves up to not be under the jurisdiction of anything like this.

So, if they decide to actually do gas their people, stern letters and hand wringing is pretty much all that will happen.

Re:DHS Kill Switch? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45423726)

Trust me, if there was a legitimate chance of a third party coming into government, the kill switch would be employed on election day.

Re:DHS Kill Switch? (4, Interesting)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about 9 months ago | (#45423670)

"Can someone explain to me the benefit of an internet kill switch?"

Media blackout. A populace ignorant of goings on is easier to control.

"And how DHS is the appropriate department for its implementation?"

Fact is there should be zero reason for an internet kill switch in the first place. There should be zero critical systems internet facing, which makes the argument to protect against terrorist attack to our infrastructure and critical systems moot. Which leads me to believe the only reason for one is to control the population, or rather control the data the population has access to, read media black out.

DHS nor any department should have need for it's implementation, nor should any department control it should one actually exist.

This right here is the best reason I can come up with to remove US control over any portion of the net, this includes hosting and services located in the US.

And yes I am an ashamed American, ashamed of what my country has become.

DHS SUCK IT BITCHES!

Re:DHS Kill Switch? (3, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 9 months ago | (#45423802)

Media blackout. A populace ignorant of goings on is easier to control.

Alternate media black-out. I can guarantee you CNN will be on the air saying what they're told[paid] to say.

And yes I am an ashamed American, ashamed of what my country has become.

You should be a proud American, but realize that the US Government has become an enemy of the idea the is America. There's a reason why the Founders spoke of "Enemies Foreign and Domestic".

Re:DHS Kill Switch? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45423852)

And yes I am an ashamed American, ashamed of what my country has become.

You're ashamed, but the rest of the world is getting scared.

Once the US has said that nobody else in the world has rights, and that their national security interests trump everything else ... America is now a very scary entity who has decided it's their right to do any damned thing they want, and the rest of the world can fuck off.

Which, could have the very unfortunate effect of increasing hostility to the US and making them more likely to be targeted. Certainly the average citizen of most countries is now very aware of the fact that the US feels entitled to do whatever they like.

Your government is becoming increasingly dismissive, belligerent, and self-entitled. One just has to mostly hope the US isn't in the process of becoming a mad dog.

Re:DHS Kill Switch? (1)

MRe_nl (306212) | about 9 months ago | (#45423686)

The agency argues that SOP 303's disclosure could reasonably be expected to endanger the physical safety of individuals near unexploded bombs. Mot. at 13. DHS's thinking goes like this: 1) SOP 303 "describes a procedure for shutting down wireless networks to prevent bombings": 2) releasing information regarding this protocol would enable "bad actors" to blunt its usefulness": and 3) this "could reasonably be expected to endanger the physical safety of those near a bomb by increasing the chances that the process will fail and the bomb will explode".

http://epic.org/foia/EPICvDHS-SOP303-Opinion.pdf [epic.org]

Re:DHS Kill Switch? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45423834)

They're scared of things like that "help i'm being arrested" app that OWS made. Sure, if you murder someone or get caught with a couple pounds of meth they'll give you a phone call relatively quickly but recent experience (last ten years or so) shows that if you get arrested for political reasons (i.e. protesting) they generally just hold you incommunicado until the protests are put down and then throw out when the threat is passed and hope you don't sue. (see: Republican national convention NYC).

Narrow mindedness (1)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about 9 months ago | (#45423998)

It's narrow mindedness in a government institutions, a common malady.

The DHS sees a need to stop some activity or other, and this makes perfect sense in context. One only has to look at the Syria and Egypt for examples of how this is used in practice - if the US ever descends into armed revolt, the switch will disrupt revolutionary communications and make it easier for the government to regain control. The military has its own, separate channels of communication.

Like all government institutions, it's narrow minded. They only think of themselves and their (DHS's) own needs, without regard to anything outside of their remit. Turning off the internet will have massive consequences to the economy locally and worldwide, but that is considered unimportant. There is no consideration of the action "in context" or the ramifications thereof, it simply achieves the goal.

They need this functionality, and other considerations be damned.

A recent post asked about "fear" and how it's used by the government to control people, but fear works in reverse as well. The government's actions are unsustainable (at the very least, economically) and it's control over the people is rapidly coming to an end. They're terrified of the end-game, and are putting pre-emptive measures into place ahead of time.

As someone previously said, elected officials are cutting everything except checks to supporters. If they stop handouts to supporters their control will fail. If cutting services causes massive unrest, they will fail.

They are between a rock and a hard place and getting squeezed harder every day. It will be interesting to see the end game when it happens.

(Look to the first month-or-two of 2014 as a possible start-date. That's when budget/debt limit talks start anew, and it's when everyone's health insurance costs will double. That's only a possibility, but next summer is looking really good for massive protests.)

Kill switch? (1, Funny)

Cro Magnon (467622) | about 9 months ago | (#45423524)

There is no kill switch! It's a !@#$ NO CARRIER

Odd ruling (1)

Tango42 (662363) | about 9 months ago | (#45423526)

Seems like a strange ruling to me. How is something intended to prevent bombs going off not to do with saving lives? I'm all for interpreting things like this narrowly, but the fact that you don't know in advance which lives you are saving doesn't seem like a sensible argument to me...

Re:Odd ruling (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 9 months ago | (#45423760)

Seems like a strange ruling to me. How is something intended to prevent bombs going off not to do with saving lives? I'm all for interpreting things like this narrowly, but the fact that you don't know in advance which lives you are saving doesn't seem like a sensible argument to me...

I haven't read the ruling yet, but just based on what you've got there, things like that could go either way. There's a very non-zero chance that if you take down the whole Internet, something will fail that's never been tested like that before. That something may very well have dangerous, even deadly consequences, not to mention the economic disruption.

So, you better have a damn good case for building the communications equivalent of nuking the homeland, and general vague scenarios might not fit that bill.

Oh, and let's put this on the "Espionage Act of 1917 needs to be repealed" pile - most of the country thinks the government is incompetent; giving them an Internet kill switch is as smart as passing out live grenades in the Kindergarten, and massive secrecy just lets the toddlers smuggle them in.

Re:Odd ruling (1)

Tango42 (662363) | about 9 months ago | (#45424250)

Since the details of the switch haven't been published, I have no view on its merits. It sounds more like a wi-fi jammer than something that will actually kill the internet.

This court case is not about the merits of the system but about whether the details should be published. The exceptions for things related to security where lives could be at risk by publishing seem to clearly apply.

Kill switch needed (1)

Vainglorious Coward (267452) | about 9 months ago | (#45423542)

What we really need is a kill switch on the DHS, and the other out-of-control TLAs

Re:Kill switch needed (1)

SteveFoerster (136027) | about 9 months ago | (#45424296)

Agreed. I just hope no one counters with the suggestion that the rigged-as-a-three-masted-schooner electoral system qualifies.

Capitalistic Internet Kill Switch (1)

OzPeter (195038) | about 9 months ago | (#45423552)

It forces you to sign up with Comcast and waits for their lawyers to attack you!

Re:Capitalistic Internet Kill Switch (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45423630)

That's not capitalism. You're thinking about Obamacare. It's called socialism.

Re:Capitalistic Internet Kill Switch (1)

Phreakiture (547094) | about 9 months ago | (#45423822)

No. Obamacare is crony capitalism.

This is Socialism. [businessinsider.com]

Re:Capitalistic Internet Kill Switch (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45423918)

No. Obamacare is crony capitalism.

This is Socialism. [businessinsider.com]

Actually it's fascism

What's the fuss? (2)

arcite (661011) | about 9 months ago | (#45423566)

The Internet Kill switch is located on the twentieth sub-floor of the White House, in a small room right beside the cot Dick Cheney hid under in 2001 for three weeks. The switch is enclosed in a nondescript beige controller box with a large round red button that blinks with the pulse of the internet. A sign above reads, only switch off in case of emergency, or alien invasion.

Re:What's the fuss? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45423626)

Are you sure that isn't the button that kills a random person and gives you a million dollars? They look so much alike.

Re:What's the fuss? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45423658)

Your description is a bit off... it is already known what the internet looks like... so it is logical the kill button would be on it.

The Internet [blogspot.com]

Re:What's the fuss? (2)

bob_super (3391281) | about 9 months ago | (#45423770)

At last check, you can kill 50% of the internet by turning off Youtube and Netflix.
Your fancy kill switch is just a phone with two CEO numbers.

Re:What's the fuss? (1)

neilo_1701D (2765337) | about 9 months ago | (#45423980)

Sweet! Is there a webcam trained on that thing so I can check the status of it daily?

Re:What's the fuss? (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 9 months ago | (#45424066)

I thought it was in an unlit basement without stairs, in a disused lavatory, in a locked filing cabinet that says "Beware of Leopard."

No, wait... That's where the Constitution is. Never mind.

Re:What's the fuss? (1)

NJRoadfan (1254248) | about 9 months ago | (#45424108)

I was under the impression it was a Linksys router with a sign on it that said "do not unplug".

Re:What's the fuss? (1)

minstrelmike (1602771) | about 9 months ago | (#45424120)

The Internet Kill switch is located on the twentieth sub-floor of the White House, in a small room right beside the cot Dick Cheney hid under in 2001 for three weeks. The switch is enclosed in a nondescript beige controller box with a large round red button that blinks with the pulse of the internet. A sign above reads, only switch off in case of emergency, or alien invasion.

Then where is the button they use to shut down the internet for the monthly maintenance?

Could they hope to kill adhoc as well? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45423604)

Surely even if they posses the ability to "switch off the Internet" the phone networks would have to come down as well to prevent hotspots? If so someone could do a lot more financial damage by declaring the wifi enabled bombs they left around Wall Street.

Re:Could they hope to kill adhoc as well? (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 9 months ago | (#45423968)

In today's America, the words "telecom" and "internet" aren't quite synonymous, but if you pretended that they were, you wouldn't be far wrong. All of my internet activity is carried by a telecom. The alternatives include cable, satellite, and radio - all of which are dependent on telecoms. Your satellite transceiver can talk to the satellite, but where is the signal going to go from there? AT&T is shut down. Depending on protocols aboard the satellite, you may be connected to a European, or Asian, or Australian server, but queries to CONUS will simply be ignored.

The bigger issue is the DHS itself (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45423752)

The fact that this is being discussed shows that the real problem is that an agency as secretive and powerful as the DHS even exists. Remember: J. Stalin was a minor figure in the Russian revolution, but once he gained control of the consolidated bureaucracy of the early USSR, he used that bureaucracy to exile, murder, imprison or otherwise neutralize his political opposition and made himself dictator for life. It is almost impossible for a single individual to defend himself from a large bureaucracy.

Until recently, the best defense that a US citizen had against attack from govt bureaucracy was the competitive turf guarding behavior of the different agencies which limited the power of any single agency. The consolidation of bureaucratic power under the single authority of the DHS has eroded that defense. An additional danger is the, thanks to Snowden, now widely publicized adoption of big database and analytics techniques by the US govt. Mark my words, if the DHS is not disbanded, then eventually the head of the DHS will become the most powerful person in the country, able to determine who gets elected to every office or even cancel elections and with a virtually unlimited ability to coerce any US citizen to do anything.

Freedoms vanish...one switch ON/OFF (2)

ElitistWhiner (79961) | about 9 months ago | (#45423756)

At that instant, US citizen's protected rights are constitutionally violated by a deliberate government action.

Turning off the Internet kills your microphone, news print and mail in one swift blow. That silences voice.

Re:Freedoms vanish...one switch ON/OFF (2)

east coast (590680) | about 9 months ago | (#45423866)

At that instant, US citizen's protected rights are constitutionally violated again by a deliberate government action.

FTFY.

Re:Freedoms vanish...one switch ON/OFF (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45424336)

At that instant, US citizen's protected rights are constitutionally violated by a deliberate government action.

Except, US citizens no longer have protected rights. Because the government is bypassing and ignoring the Constitution.

And huge amounts of people are essentially saying "awesome, keep us safe from the terrorists", and completely missing what's happening around them. As long as they can still go shopping and the TV shows stay on the air, they simply don't care.

9/11 was the point at which the US voluntarily ceased to stop being a free country, but most people don't understand that. What's even worse, they keep acting like they're free and defend what the government is doing.

So this is how liberty dies. With thunderous applause. [quotationspage.com]

Anyone notice the irony ?? (1)

Salgak1 (20136) | about 9 months ago | (#45423780)

The lawsuit is to try and release "Standard Operating Procedure 303".

Which would make the entire 'net 404. . . .

Who was it that said, (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 9 months ago | (#45423806)

"They have made their decision, now let them enforce it"

great, whats next... (1)

nimbius (983462) | about 9 months ago | (#45423898)

the government starts telling me i have to disclose my internet turbo switch?

Google Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45423916)

Nothing to new here,
Everyone knows if you Google "Google" it kills the internet

economics (1)

minstrelmike (1602771) | about 9 months ago | (#45424112)

Everybody has been complaining about the high cost of American government without really talking about what you get with it.
Makes it seem as if we should cut the price of government since we don't need it.
But what actually happens when the govt shuts down? Business loses money.
If business is running the government, or rich people are running the government, then it will cost them money if they shut down the internet.
Economics is a pain in the butt. You actually _can_ dominate everyone else in your area for a while (or longer if some other country supports you the way China props up North Korea) but you can't actually be better off than other countries. Being rich in North Korea means being able to get a ripe banana.

The rulez of economics apply whether you are rich or poor. Cutting off the internet means shutting down profits.
That isn't going to happen for every long.

DHS Kill switch request (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45424130)

DHS: Don't Have ta, Sorry!

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