Thursday, April 02, 2009

New Bill Would Give Obama An Internet Kill Switch

**Updated post on the new Lieberman legislation that much like this would allow of an internet kill switch**

According to NetworkWorld a bill recently introduced by West Virginia Democratic Sen. John Rockefeller, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and Sen. Olympia Snowe, a Republican from Maine, would give the president the power to declare a cybersecurity emergency and then shut down both public and private networks including Internet traffic coming to and from compromised systems.

The 51-page Rockefeller/Snowe bill (s.778) (here is a new link if that one is not working) calls for the creation of a National Cybersecurity Advisor that would report directly to the President. The bill also calls for a comprehensive national cybersecurity strategy in place 12 months after the bill passes.

The sticking point with many critics is the broad sweeping power that this bill might implement. For instance hidden within the context of the bill is the phrase:

“We are confident that the communication networks and the Internet would be so designated [as critical infrastructure], so in the interest of national security the president could order them disconnected.”

Update: The above was mistakenly quoted, it was actually a quote from Leslie Harris, president and CEO at the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT). It was his response to the actual quote "The President— may order the disconnection of any Federal government or United States critical infrastructure information systems or networks in the interest of national security.”

Effectively this could mean, under the guise of national security, that the president would be given a kill switch with the power of turning off the internet in the event of a widespread attack. It could also been interpreted to mean the president would have the power to limit or block certain internet traffic.

To put this into perspective if the National Cybersecurity Advisor bought into the recent Conficker hype he could recommend that the threat is so great that the White House needs to shut down critical servers in order to keep the critical infrastructure alive. Given how that turned out is that really something we need?

This broad ranging power is a scary piece of legislation! WE had better hope that this doesn't pass, or if it does that they work to lighten some of the wording on something this wide open.


  1. Anonymous1:29 PM

    Your quote is COMPLETELY fabricated. Stop spreading lies

  2. The quote was improperly attributed to being listed in the text of the bill. I've revised the post, however as mentioned above it does imply that the president would have the power to effectively disconnect the internet if its in the interest of national security.

  3. Anonymous4:02 PM

    Even your modification (after being called out on your flat out lie) is still baseless and needlessly inflammatory. The President (or his peeps) probably should have the ability to shut down computers BELONGING TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT in an emergency. If you've got to wait a couple of days before you can check for your refund status, so be it, but that's about the biggest inconvenience this is likely to spawn.

  4. Dude read the bill as it was written. From my understanding it has recently been amended but we aren't talking about killing just government sites or a few government computers. We are talking about the ability to force independent companies to shut down service in the event of a perceived threat. This isn't just my point of view but one shared by many people that are in the know.

  5. I'm in agreement after reading SEVERAL new stories about this. I notice, that in defending the pres, you can't even provide an identity there "Anonymous". If you want to attack someone's point of view, so be it...but at least allow those being attacked to know who they are dealing with.

  6. I am torn too, that is, for and against this.
    I believe there are computers and networks that need protecting like this. But I don't believe the whole internet should need to be effected.
    It would be simplier to have a kill switch on all the government's network internet connection's and leave the poor home users and businesses alone.
    So what if the .gov sites are down we can live with that. But taking down the whole internet more than a few hours, that would be chaos for all internet companies and e-commerce type sites, if it were more than a few hours.

  7. Anonymous1:57 PM

    Let security be the responsibility of those that do it and politicians keep out of the internet as it was intended. I say we propose a constitutional amendment to protect the internet as a form of free speech.

  8. Anonymous8:47 AM

    The above Anon is obviously from 4Chan

  9. Anonymous9:33 PM

    there's nothing to be torn about here, or confused! It's all smoke and mirrors to censure the free press and the like - cuz if it was a security threat, then they would f'n take care of the Arizona f'n border, the oil spill - but its not! It's all about these crooks ramming as much control down our throats before they lose their cumfy govt seat! VOTE THEM ALL OUT!

  10. Anonymous11:23 PM

    The abillity to shut down the Internet is to great a power for one person to have. giving up liberties like this, seems all to common these days. I would be in favor however of the executive branch being able to shut it down for a day or two (only one time). Then the States having the power to turn it back on as they see fit. This gives balance to the powers and the people more say in its use.

  11. Anonymous12:35 AM

    Wow, anyone supports this disappoints me. I admit you are given the right to your opinion, but I'm entitled to mine as well. If you studied TRUE history and not just what the government allows to be taught in schools you will now that the government will act in its own interest, ALWAYS no matter the cost and no matter the situation it will act in its own interest. It will always make decisions that will slowly but surely increase its power over the people, the declaration of Martial Law for example. Was implemented as a form of Nationwide emergency, but was used in several cases to stop riots against the government and were called without proper authorization. The government will continue to slowly take away peoples right, it will continue to find ways to terrorize american citizens and then pass power grabbing acts under the guise of 'Emergency security measures' and such like this. America was founded off of freedom for its people, but so far all its people managed to do with their freedom is throw their lives away and sit idly while everyday the government plans to move against them, with the mentality 'Im only one person, what can I do'. Fuck that, you never know when something bad is going to happen so live your life the way you want it, I would gladly die being TRUE patriot and fighting for the RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS to be fully exploited and fully exercised by american citizens, not fully exploited and taken advantage of by the goverment. People view other who have antigovermental views as terrorists and patriot haters, thats not true. You can hate your goverment with your whole heart, but still love your country, your people, and the freedoms they ARE SUPPOSED to represent.

  12. No he's talking about turning it off for the hole country the united states will go into collapse since most of our business is done on the internet now a days since we come to relay on Technology over the and years this needs to be stopped since somebody on capitol hill has became to comfortable!.

  13. Anonymous9:02 AM

    Fuck that. Movin' to Canada.

  14. This was the first incarnation of the bill. The newest bill was introduced by Sen Lieberman. I've posted the details on that bill here.

    Either way you look at it I DO NOT want my government having the power to shutdown a major means of information and media.

  15. Anonymous1:10 PM

    the quote doesnt matter what matters is this is all true and could turn bad very quickly.

  16. Ashlyn9:21 PM

    I think that the government is slowly taking all of our rights away, and this is just another way for them to treat us like we're their puppets. I honestly think that the president probably has a power similar to this, just as I think the US has done alot of bad things that the people do not know about. I think that if us citizens DON'T do something about this, then we deserve to be taken over. We can't just turn a blind eye to this. If you're going to base a country on it's freedoms, then do not bullshit the people that's making your country work. Be straight up so we know what we're getting into. We don't have as many freedoms as everyone thinks we do in all honesty. but I'm a fifteen year old girl, what do i know?

  17. Ashlyn, stop believing every baseless conspiracy theory you take a peak at. God.


All comments will be moderate for content, please be patient as your comment will appear as soon as it has been reviewed.

Thank you