If Egypt can cut off the country's Internet, can the US too?

During the heights of the protests in Egypt, the Egyptian government cut off Internet in the entire country. This led to companies like Google to offer a voice recognition service for Egyptians to share information online via the telephone. The Internet has since been turned back on but it makes one wonder, could the U.S. government do something similar? 

According to International Business Times, experts have told them that it would be nearly impossible to cut off the Internet in the U.S. The fiber optic backbone of the networks throughout the U.S. are owned by several different companies, and some of those companies are owned by foreign entities. On the east coast there is an Internet exchange point called The Metropolitan Exchange and that point alone has 19 different carriers. Getting all of these companies to shut down their exchange would be very expensive. 

Along with requiring a great deal of money to implement some sort of kill switch on all of the major networks, it would also cost online businesses and Wall Street a great deal of money. Trading on Wall Street relies heavily on the Internet, without it, trading would not be possible. After the attacks on September 11th, a major fiber line underground was cut and Wall Street lost Internet access. This loss of Internet access was part of the reason that trading was halted for four days after the attacks.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Civil servant fired for googling 'knockers'

Next Story

Sony Ericsson to announce the Xperia Play aka the PlayStation Phone on February 13th

48 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

TrInAdOr said,
Well... national security is more important than all of these concepts...

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. - Ben Franklin

Why would any government want the ability to control the internet? Because just like in Egypt, if the people were to rise up for whatever reason, and it was felt that control was being lost, you can bet your a$$ they pull the switch. Obama, or whatever puppet is in the driver's seat at the time would use the power, this just makes it legal. Now ask yourself, if the people (lets say the vast majority) were angry enough to revolt, what does that make the sitting government that tries to silence them?

Governments aren't here to help you, they're here to control you. Things make much more sense from that premise, to me anyway.

I have heard about this but have not looked too much into the actual details of the bill. All I know is that there are a lot of companies out there who sell their products and services using the internet and if the government were to kill the access to the internet those companies could loose customers and possibly even go out of business because of it. Would these companies and their employees be compensated with money from the government for their loss... I seriously doubt it and would vote against anything like this if it ever appeared on my ballot.

The answer to this question is actually harder than it sounds. There can never be a "kill switch" (like there was never really a red button to launch nukes in the Cold War) that just turns off the internet. However, the government controls about 80% of the root DNS servers and has easy access to the rest. The reality is, if the gov decided to turn off the internet in America they'd actually be turning off most of it for the world. It'd take a few hours for this to happen, so there would be some warning before things went totally black.
What you would end up with is a bunch of "island internets" that were isolated to whatever country or region that remained unaffected by the outage in the US.
And before anyone starts saying that ICANN won't play along, they're is nothing more than a lap dog for the US government. They'll play along if they're told to.

Is funny but Internet was created and designed for to keep online even in case of a global war but now we are found that the current Internet is quite unstable and it depend in private interest rather in technology.

Benjy91 said,
But then surely anyone with half a brain could use DNSlookup on CMD then manually enter the IP?

Nope, if DNS isn't working, then how do you do a DNS lookup? The DNS tables could also be 'poisoned', thus mis-directing traffic wherever is wanted. There is also the fact that just using the IP address won't work for many sites that are either co-located or load balanced.

Slugsie said,

Nope, if DNS isn't working, then how do you do a DNS lookup? The DNS tables could also be 'poisoned', thus mis-directing traffic wherever is wanted. There is also the fact that just using the IP address won't work for many sites that are either co-located or load balanced.


We could all maintain massive hosts.txt files

Whilst it may be technically very hard to cut off the physical wires (or fibre optics or whatever), crippling the internet would be quite easy for the USA. I can't remember the exact details but there are (or were last I checked) a bunch of servers that central to DNS that are in the US - take them down and name resolution will quickly fall over. This has been widely known about for a long time, and various groups have tried to mitigate the problem, but with an unknown level of success.

Of course they can, all in the name of freedom.

Anyone who disagrees with it is a Terrorist, and a Communist.

Its not about if your government can, its about will it. Hence theres not a lot if anything to be worried about.

Make no mistake if they really want to do it they'll find a way, foreign entities or not.

downhillrider said,
We wouldnt and thats why we are better than everyone else

You keep thinking that. Governments, like animals, will always resort to desparate measures to self-preserve if no other option exists.

This article is disappointing. First off, given the way this administration spends money, "cost" would not be a deterrent if it benefited their interests... It was costly to Egypt's economy as well (Comparatively speaking) and they still did it. Second, Obama has a bill he's trying to push through that gives him exactly this power.

M_Lyons10 said,
This article is disappointing. First off, given the way this administration spends money, "cost" would not be a deterrent if it benefited their interests... It was costly to Egypt's economy as well (Comparatively speaking) and they still did it. Second, Obama has a bill he's trying to push through that gives him exactly this power.

I disagree, I think cost would be a concern. Spending lots of money isn't the same as how much money would be LOST from the gov. and businesses.

thatguyandrew1992 said,

I disagree, I think cost would be a concern. Spending lots of money isn't the same as how much money would be LOST from the gov. and businesses.

The government (And businesses) have lost a LOT of money (And jobs) due to the government's arrogance in the past, and that is only getting worse... They don't see the cause and effect, they don't connect the dots. To them shutting down the internet would just be a justifiable control measure. Same as Egypt. Nothing more.

DClark said,
If it got to that point, the blood of patriots and tyrants would be refreshing the tree of liberty.
you would hope so.

DClark said,
If it got to that point, the blood of patriots and tyrants would be refreshing the tree of liberty.

I'd say that the killing of the internet would be an effect of rebellion, not the cause. Same as Egypt.

It cost Egypt something like $48,000,000 per day every day the internet was down[citation needed], how much do you think it would cost the USA per day? Unless the government in question was literally trying to **** the country over, it'd be the worst decision ever.

Kushan said,
It cost Egypt something like $48,000,000 per day every day the internet was down[citation needed], how much do you think it would cost the USA per day? Unless the government in question was literally trying to **** the country over, it'd be the worst decision ever.
Indeed. Such a decision would have to be done on purpose for that reason alone.

Perhaps there's a conspiracy here? I love devising these theories... Barry cuts the internet, our finances go down the drain... the bank prints more money and hyperinflation arrives. Our currency becomes worthless and stocks plummet. The bank buys America and deflates the currency. But no maybe not, the bank already owns us What more could they want from us??

Izlude said,
Indeed. Such a decision would have to be done on purpose for that reason alone.

Perhaps there's a conspiracy here? I love devising these theories... Barry cuts the internet, our finances go down the drain... the bank prints more money and hyperinflation arrives. Our currency becomes worthless and stocks plummet. The bank buys America and deflates the currency. But no maybe not, the bank already owns us What more could they want from us??

Ha! Hyperinflation is coming to the US whether the govt. cuts internet or not.

I don't think the US would ever really want to cut the internet even if they could. It would be so bad for the country causing god knows how many problems and loss of money.

thatguyandrew1992 said,
I don't think the US would ever really want to cut the internet even if they could. It would be so bad for the country causing god knows how many problems and loss of money.
Agreed, just look at Egypt. Blacking out there internet for like 3 days will hurt their economy for years to come.

Recon415 said,
Why would we be asking for a kill switch if it was easy to black out the web?

Because a kill switch is even easier and more efficient.

Edited by Majesticmerc, Feb 7 2011, 12:22pm :