Bill to allow for Internet kill switch resurfaces

A bill created last year by US Senators Joseph Lieberman and Susan Collins that would give the President power over the internet in the event of a "cyberemergency" and prohibit any review by the court systems has resurfaced. The bill has been modified since its initial introduction to the Senate, but the primary idea behind the bill is to give the government power over "the nation's critical infrastructure."

When speaking about the bill, Lieberman said that it should be a top priority, then went on to say, 

"For all of its 'user-friendly' allure, the Internet can also be a dangerous place with electronic pipelines that run directly into everything from our personal bank accounts to key infrastructure to government and industrial secrets."

The Senators said that companies like Microsoft, Verizon, and EMC Corporation have said positive things about the initial version of the bill. Steve DelBianco, director of the NetChoice coalition, which includes members such as eBay, Oracle, Verisign, and Yahoo, told CBS,

"A designation of critical information infrastructure brings with it huge obligations for upgrades and compliance. The country we're seeking to protect is a country that respects the right of any individual to have their day in court. Yet this bill would deny that day in court to the owner of infrastructure."

DHS Deputy Undersecretary Philip Reitinger said that the President already has the ability to seize control of the networks if he wanted to based on a law created in 1934 establishing the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) that says, "if a state of public peril or disaster or other national emergency exists," the President has the power to "authorize the use or control of any...station or device." He said that this law should be clarified and updated rather than creating a law that overlaps this one.

A proposal to put an Internet kill switch into place is nothing new for the US government. There have been several bills introduced before this one that have tried to give the White House the power to declare cybersecurity emergencies, or bills that attempt to allow the government to disconnect certain sites or networks if needed. 

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I think I get it...someone can't do what they wanna do, because they way they wanted to do it has been terminated. No one would create a "cyberemergency" just because they can. There is always an initial goal and creating a "cyberemergnecy" is just a way to get to that goal. Thomas Edison didn't stop trying to achieve his goal of inventing the light bulb just because someone "killswitched" his initial idea. Don't forget that Diehard was more than halfway, about people shooting guns and killing each other to achieve the initial goal.

Seriously, the government is just trying to get someone to think outside the box so they can see what other methods that person can conjure up to get things done.

In principal it sounds like a really good idea...every other "network" or critical service can be closed for priority emergency service / protection. If you even start to brainstorm a little into the future with new technological improvements and cyber threats, its not hard to see a future need for this. It wouldn't be any different than highways (built for defense), television, radio, canals, and every other piece of infrastructure in which gov't can restrict or on / of.

It's just scary and not hard to imagine how some could want to twist its intent to limit freedoms outside of emergencies, either.

FWIW, you don't let young children play with explosives -- IMHO you should be just as cautious about letting the gov play with your freedoms...

If it makes it through Congress, & if it's treated like most other recent legislation, there will be plenty of vaguely worded add-ons to be interpreted however the gov likes -- what you see is not what you'll get. Congressional aids & lobbyists write the actual bills, & they're often so complicated in wording that years afterward the legal system is still wrangling over just what legislation says.

When companies like Microsoft are quoted [correctly or not] implying they favor the proposed new gov powers, please remember that the admin [& not just the current one] is seen by biz as playing favorites -- it has sometimes used regs & executive powers to go after companies &/or industries as they saw fit, while pushing regs & laws etc. to help out those they liked, e.g. GE.

When they talk about protecting infrastructure, most powerplants etc. use old, *un-connected* tech [most all infrastructure in the US is very old].

Government IT is for the most part abysmal... every time an administration has hired someone good to try to straighten things out they've quit out of frustration.

Some reports, & CIA policy say that most critical private & gov networks have already been compromised.

When Reitinger says the admin already has the authority, count on it. If/when a US president feels they have whatever authority they will use it if/when they feel it's necessary -- people, the courts, & Congress can disagree with that belief, but frankly there's not much anyone can do about it, anything they do will be after the fact, and as with the last admin, there's no political will to do something about it.

Whether you like Collins or not she's a career politician, while Lieberman's retiring -- interpret motives as you will.

Too much power to give to one politician. As if keys to the nukes weren't enough. It should be up to the owners of the backbones to decide if their backbone should be freed up of traffic in national emergency, not the president. The president or DHS could request that traffic be temporarily halted. and no this wouldn't stop WikiLeaks.

Who thinks this is a desperate attempt to stop any more secrets leaking out a la wikileaks?

If there is such a thing as a "cyber emergency" dont you think we would have seen one by now? What about the worms that infected thousands of networks/computers, like the blaster worm?

Frankly speaking, Internet is now to big to be taken down by just one country...

Matter of fact basically its a huge network, USA may opt out of the network by closing all incoming and out going services from their controlled servers [], however that wont cause China / Europe / Asia / Australia or other country to stop functioning in the network !!!

Yes we have seen Pakistan mistakenly caused issue in DNS table, US may also do such, but then again these country ISP operators would simply isolate the problematic servers..

US off the net would mean stop to most of the major website but in general connectivity cant be stopped by a single country i guess.. Unless US bombs all the landing station / Under sea optic fiber to stop Inter country connectivity

Correct me if I am wrong

Choto Cheeta said,
Frankly speaking, Internet is now to big to be taken down by just one country...

Matter of fact basically its a huge network, USA may opt out of the network by closing all incoming and out going services from their controlled servers [], however that wont cause China / Europe / Asia / Australia or other country to stop functioning in the network !!!

Yes we have seen Pakistan mistakenly caused issue in DNS table, US may also do such, but then again these country ISP operators would simply isolate the problematic servers..

US off the net would mean stop to most of the major website but in general connectivity cant be stopped by a single country i guess.. Unless US bombs all the landing station / Under sea optic fiber to stop Inter country connectivity

Correct me if I am wrong

You're wrong on the following count:
The article title is wrong. They are not trying to pass a bill that will allow them to shut down the internet as a whole, just the internet within the U.S.

While this will have an impact on other countries as well, considering businesses that are inter-connected with U.S. locations and such, it will not stop the internet outside of the country.

Who controls the masters? Who decides what is a "threat" and what isn't? Would the "threat" refer to individual sites, individual people, or other Countries only?

What if a pro-Islamic, anti-American site were to put stuff on their site...just words of hate, (free speech), nothing more, but never the less, some anonymous "advisor" in power could easily turn the mole-hill into a very big mountain and "advise" the President to shut down this "dangerous threat."

No, this is dodgy ground. I'd imagine a "threat" can, and probably will be interpreted in various ways, and that is where, you guessed it, "censorship" would come into play, in the name of "national security."

The point is having the legislation in place before a catastrophic event. It has nothing to do with censorship or regulation of the Internet and would only encompass networks within the United States. One very real scenerio would be the introduction of something like a Stuxnet into America's nuclear, energy, or financial networks. Having the power established now would reduce the delay in determining legislative authority while the country's power or financial grids implode.

bradsday said,
The point is having the legislation in place before a catastrophic event. It has nothing to do with censorship or regulation of the Internet and would only encompass networks within the United States. One very real scenerio would be the introduction of something like a Stuxnet into America's nuclear, energy, or financial networks. Having the power established now would reduce the delay in determining legislative authority while the country's power or financial grids implode.

Just disconnect the plant from the Internet. Why shut down the whole Internet (BTW Stuxnet that you mentioned was being by patronage of the same people who want this bill passed).

Wait, who stands to gain from a contract to monitor this? Probably an associate of Lieberman's that is running a company that will gain a lucrative contract with a kick back.

Ouch, that'd suck. In order to do that all they'd need to do is to get a BGP talker that has authority to announce /32s... So lovely.

Also, Glassed Silver, are you so certain that this wouldn't have been used against the WikiLeaks crap just recently?

Poof said,
Ouch, that'd suck. In order to do that all they'd need to do is to get a BGP talker that has authority to announce /32s... So lovely.

Also, Glassed Silver, are you so certain that this wouldn't have been used against the WikiLeaks crap just recently?


What do you mean?
All I mean is I see no PROPER use for it...
Fears are created to pass this law to maybe do something like blocking W/L... (Of CAUSE some are already planning how to use it... and I bet not for "our safety", because that's just BS)
So actually we're on the same side.

GS:mac

Nagamasa said,
Cyberemergency = everyone DDoSing everyone else? = no one would have access anywhere anyways?

Go watch Die Hard 4 to see exactly what a cyber emergency would be (even if they did exaggerate exactly what can be done via a computer). I'm pretty certain that movie played some role in the (re)spawning of the idea.

Metodi Mitov said,

Go watch Die Hard 4 to see exactly what a cyber emergency would be (even if they did exaggerate exactly what can be done via a computer). I'm pretty certain that movie played some role in the (re)spawning of the idea.

Or the movie Untraceable would fit under this

Did we ever need this?
No. Will we ever need this? Maybe for fighting wild fantasies... In real world: never.

Fear is lucrative and fear allows to convince people who would otherwise disagree.

I say drop that BS and get some real work done.

GS:mac

Glassed Silver said,
Did we ever need this?
No. Will we ever need this? Maybe for fighting wild fantasies... In real world: never.

Fear is lucrative and fear allows to convince people who would otherwise disagree.

I say drop that BS and get some real work done.

GS:mac

In the case something catastrophic DOES happen, then we'll be prepared.

Chaltalian said,
In the case something catastrophic DOES happen, then we'll be prepared.

In the case the world implodes, we'll all be warm.
point is IF it does happen is HYPOTHETICAL.

einsteinbqat said,
Perhaps they should define what cybersecurity emergencies are. And the real question is, "Who is this bill really protecting?"

exactly! , it's safe to assume it's not protecting the people like they would claim. lol

TRC said,
One country should not control the internet, even if they invented it.

It would only apply to US networks, the gov wouldn't have any control over any other country. So everyone else in the world would still have the internet while we here in the states would be shut down.