Probably Not The Best Time To Introduce Legislation That Can Be Described As Having An 'Internet Kill Switch'

from the that's-not-going-to-fly dept

We've already discussed how, contrary to the claims of some, there really isn't an attempt to create "an internet kill switch" in the US. There is a (admittedly bad) proposal concerning how the US would respond in the event of some sort of "cyber attack." The proposal itself would allow the government to mandate how certain "critical infrastructure" pieces of the internet should respond in the event of such an attack. What isn't explained is why such a legal mandate is really needed. If you're running the Hoover Dam, say, (and stupidly have important infrastructure connected to the internet) and the feds point out a way to avoid or minimize an ongoing hack attack, are you really going to say no?

That said, since the bill has falsely been described as having an internet kill switch, it seems like particularly bad timing to re-introduce it now, just after Egypt actually did pull out its own version of an internet kill switch.

While it may be a good thing that this bill gets killed off no matter what (since it is a bad piece of legislation), I'm a bit worried by how quickly everyone has jumped on this "internet kill switch" claim to describe it. What happened in Egypt is important to pay attention to and to learn from, but it doesn't mean that we should immediately jump to the conclusion that that's what the US is trying to do. There are serious problems with the bill, and we should discuss those, rather than just calling it an internet kill switch, when that's not what's in the bill.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    DataShade (profile), Jan 31st, 2011 @ 7:29pm

    True, I'd hate to see overzealous privacy-advocates paint an *inaccurate* portrait of the newest in Senator Lieberman's long line of anti-populist anti-democracy nonsense. I wonder, tho', if there hadn't been a big public outcry, would Lieberman have hired out-of-work Egyptian policemen to dress as rioters and loot the bill? I mean, what's good for the gooose....

     

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      pixelpusher220 (profile), Feb 1st, 2011 @ 7:51am

      unintended consequences

      As NBC reported last night, the shut off of internet and cell phones actually served to 'focus' the demonstrations.

      Before the shut off there were small demonstrations in many places. Once people were no longer able to communicate/coordinate, they all just went to the one main square - making the protests seem even *bigger* (not to say they are small either).

       

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    Pixelation, Jan 31st, 2011 @ 7:30pm

    Hands off...

    Having the government manage the intertubes in any way is a bad idea. I think it's time to tell congress to keep their hands off. Really. Our legislators can only fuck it up.

     

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      Jake, Jan 31st, 2011 @ 7:43pm

      Re: Hands off...

      You might want to think that sentiment though carefully. Would you rather trust the free market or the ballot box?

       

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        Gwen, Jan 31st, 2011 @ 8:11pm

        Re: Re: Hands off...

        "You might want to think that sentiment though carefully. Would you rather trust the free market or the ballot box?"

        Hmmm....I'd like to trust both...but I trust neither of them.

         

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        Pixelation, Jan 31st, 2011 @ 8:15pm

        Re: Re: Hands off...

        "Would you rather trust the free market or the ballot box?"

        Um, um, well... normally neither. In this case I'd rather trust the free market.

         

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          Chargone (profile), Jan 31st, 2011 @ 10:14pm

          Re: Re: Re: Hands off...

          that presupposes actually have a free market.

           

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            Pixelation, Jan 31st, 2011 @ 10:30pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Hands off...

            "that presupposes actually have a free market."

            True. I actually started to put free in quotes and thought better of it. I figured it might be distracting.

             

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          pixelpusher220 (profile), Feb 1st, 2011 @ 10:19am

          Re: Re: Re: Hands off...

          you mean the 'free market' of child labor? Hey, it's a free country after all, you should be able to do whatever you want right?

          How about this definition:
          The 'free market' is about screwing as many people as possible while giving them the barest minimum you can get away with.

          unadulterated capitalism isn't nearly as pretty as you might imagine. unadulterated gov't control isn't good either.

          Compromise is how govt's form and function.

           

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        Johnny, Jan 31st, 2011 @ 11:55pm

        Re: Re: Hands off...

        > Would you rather trust the free market or the ballot box?

        I'll go for the free market. After all the ballot box, can be used as a form of dictatorship by the majority. As in the example of two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 31st, 2011 @ 7:43pm

    So if this stops the bill from passing it's a bad thing because it stopped it for the wrong reasons.

     

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    Zacqary Adam Green (profile), Jan 31st, 2011 @ 7:49pm

    Yeah, it would be nice if we had a society that encouraged informed debate.

    Until then, though, I'm gonna take a Machiavellian stand on this particular bill. Let's use bills which actually shouldn't be struck down by public insanity to push for rational thinking.

     

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    Johnny, Feb 1st, 2011 @ 12:15am

    Why wouldn't it be called an Internet Kill-Switch?

    Such legislation is certainly on the slippery slope towards giving the government such powers.

    If we can prevent the first step towards that situation certainly that would be a good thing.

     

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    bob, Feb 1st, 2011 @ 12:37am

    Is It Not Time

    With all the ramifications of "bad law" coming to light and the unintended consequence of "good law" is it not time for laws to be made that stick with the US Constitution? Is it not time for the government to just but out?

     

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    aikiwolfie (profile), Feb 1st, 2011 @ 4:05am

    Just as the Japanese have an understandable but unhealthy fascination with nuclear apocalyptic holocausts, Americans are totally paranoid about losing their liberty and freedoms for good reason.

    Given some of the legislation that has been passed over the years that gives American governments frighting powers of intrusion into peoples lives in contrast with the extreme secrecy under which all American administrations operate it's not surprising people have reacted the way they have. Especially if there is no good explanation why this bill is needed.

    In light of the recent reports of ISPs refusing to host Wikileaks because of intimidation from the US administration it's very easy to believe that the American government craves a way to turn off the Internet. It was certainly a lot easier to operate in secrete when the Internet wasn't an issue.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 1st, 2011 @ 5:16am

      Re:

      Yet, that overwhelming desire for freedom at every turn means that Americans are some of the easier targets for terrorists to hit, because that very freedom keeps all the doors and windows open at all times.

      America's inability to even secure it's own borders, caught up in a fight of the rights of illegal immigrants (think about the children!) is itself a great symbol. Absolute freedom, like any absolute thing, usually backfires in the long run.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 1st, 2011 @ 8:53am

    What was the original purpose of the internet? Oh yeah...

     

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    fogbugzd (profile), Feb 1st, 2011 @ 9:56am

    Just the opposite

    It seems to me that the warning we got from Egypt is that we should be looking for ways to prevent the government from shutting down the Internet. This includes the US government or any other government in the world.

     

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