Monday, 7 March 2011

In Search Of The Internet Kill Switch

The complete internet shutdown this week in Libya involved a new way to turn off web access for an entire country. Earlier this year, the total internet blockade in Egypt backfired and emboldened the protesters. China is well known for blocking internet services, but it's not just China. Of course, having the government turn off the internet could never happen in the United States. We couldn't condemn the action in other countries while at the same time plan it here. No one would even suggest such a thing, right? Wrong. The topic came up last June when Senators Joseph Lieberman, Susan Collins and Thomas Carper introduced the controversial "Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act of 2010". [PDF] One vague provision in the bill gave the President the power to "authorize emergency measures to protect the nation's most critical infrastructure if a cyber vulnerability is being exploited or is about to be exploited." It became known as the internet "kill switch" bill even though the words 'kill' and 'switch' are not found in the bill.



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