Internet Kill Switch

Closing Thought–05Oct20

Most of us bloggers have made it known that we are part of the defense of a open internet…..but did you know that there is the possibility that Trump or a future president being able to turn off the internet on a whim?

Ever hear of the Communications Act or 1934? How about Section 706 of that Act?

Do not run for the Google button….I can help…..

The Act is here…..

Click to access 1934new.pdf

Section 706 is the most telling….if you are allergic to reading then here is the pertinent section…

SEC. 706. [47 U.S.C. 606] WAR EMERGENCY–POWERS OFPRESIDENT.(a) During the continuance of a war in which the United States is engaged,the President is authorized, if he finds it necessary for the national defense andsecurity, to direct that such communications as in his judgment may be essential tothe national defense and security shall have preference or priority with any carriersubject to this Act. He may give these directions at and for such times as he maydetermine, and may modify, change, suspend, or annul them and for any suchpurpose he is hereby authorized to issue orders directly, or through such person orpersons as he designates for the purpose, or through the Commission. Any carriercomplying with any such order or direction or preference or priority hereinauthorized shall be exempt from any and all provisions in existing law imposingcivil or criminal penalties, obligations, or liabilities upon carriers by reason ofgiving preference or priority in compliance with such order or direction.

I bring all this up because there are a couple of repres that are trying to prevent any interruptions…..

Civil libertarians on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers of Congress have joined forces to call for canceling a little-known executive power.

Sens. Rand Paul (R–Ky.), Ron Wyden (D–Ore), and Gary Peters (D–Mich.), along with Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (D–Hawaii) and Thomas Massie (R–Ky.), introduced bills this week to abolish the so-called “internet kill switch”—a sweeping emergency executive authority over communications technology that predates World War II.

“No president from either party should have the sole power to shut down or take control of the internet or any other of our communication channels during an emergency,” Paul argued in a statement announcing the Unplug the Internet Kill Switch Act.

Rand Paul, Tulsi Gabbard, Thomas Massie, Ron Wyden Join Forces To Unplug the President’s ‘Internet Kill Switch’

I am not a big fan of Rand Paul but I will applaud his attempt here…as well as the candidate that I was supporting until she dropped out Tulsi Gabbard.

Learn Stuff!

“lego ergo scribo”

6 thoughts on “Internet Kill Switch

  1. Being an old radio guy I can provide a bit of digestible perspective here. First off, the communications technology available in 1934 was limited to telephone (connect by wire), and radio (over-the-air).. including amateur, business, and commercial. The act established the FCC as the monitoring and regulating entity for what is radio waves. This meant, and still means, the FCC determines radio spectrum usages as well as modes of radio (AM, FM, digital, etc.) permitted on those frequencies. With the advent of television broadcasting that also fell into the FCC arena. Telephone and cable (TV, internet outside wifi, etc.) do not fall under FCC auspices because they are wired forms of communication. This is why porn and swear words do not come with fines and penalties as it would in broadcasting over the air. The “in times of war” section I believe allows the President to commandeer commercial broadcast facilities which would include what is being broadcasted to the public as well as ceasing broadcasting altogether. I would think with the internet, given the internet falls out of the purview of the FCC (except for establishing radio parameters and spectrum useage frequencies for wifi) because the internet is largely a wired technology. This entire context makes it all the more important for Congress to address “updating” the Communications Act of 1934.
    This idea of having an “off switch” for the internet, which I presume would be limited to U.S. domestic (unless some sitting Prez wants to shut down the entire world), would have the far reaching affect of not only stopping uncomfortable personal communications (fake news, offensive material, blah, blah) between the public and the media.. but it will shut down completely the economy, all utilities, and government.. flat and simple… and likely cripple any initial response of the military needing to provide information to active duty and off duty personnel. Would this on-off switch include cell phone? Likely if you kill the internet you would also kill landline phone given the landline technology is totally controlled by internet access. Far simpler to find the locations of those few internet servers that are the heartbeat of the entire system and send in a drone (you’d likely not get your drone back because it will have destroyed itself.
    Now.. all this does NOT mean we don’t review, explore, and research what CAN be interlaced with the system to allow for certain defense emergency contingencies. If you ask me.. we are simply just a few lines of code provided by some kid in his basement away from some sort of Skynet control of the entire internet.

  2. This can be more selective of course. Social media can be shut down without affecting systems operations for business and government. Email can be shut down without affecting corporate or government emails. China has managed to do this on a few occasions, and the DPRK constantly disrupts online activity to stop dissenters.
    Best wishes, Pete.

      1. Me too, Chuq! But what can we do against this? Europe tries to establish a own “internet”. I am really concerned about this too, because it sounds like they will implement a switch for disconnecting from the US-internet. Michael

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