Ex-CIA Chief Says US Gov't Should Be Able To Shut Down The Internet

from the um,-no dept

We’ve talked about all the hype over a supposed “kill switch” for the internet in recent cybersecurity legislation was misleading. There simply was no such thing in the proposed law — but apparently some government spymasters would like it to be true. Michael Hayden, who was the head of the CIA until recently, is out claiming that the President really should have the ability to shut down the internet because “cyberterrorism” is such a big threat. While he does say that the bar should be “really high” before such a kill switch could be used, he still doesn’t justify why it would ever make sense. Of course, this is the same guy who once denied that the 4th Amendment said “probable cause,” so he has a history of stretching things.

Separately, since FUDing up “cyberwar” claims seems to have become quite profitable for former gov’t spooks (now often working for private sector “security” companies looking to create moral panics and fears to drum up business), I wondered what Hayden is up to these days. And… what do you know… it appears that Hayden is now working for the Chertoff Group, the “security firm” founded by former head of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff. It seems like that sort of conflict of interest would be rather pertinent to any press coverage of what Hayden has to say, but for whatever reason, Reuters chose to leave that out of its story….

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Comments on “Ex-CIA Chief Says US Gov't Should Be Able To Shut Down The Internet”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Terrorists would love this. Hell, 4chan (outside of the US) would love this!

Fake a internet security attack every hour, on the hour, and watch the entire US (and many other 1st world nations) suffer massive economic damage as industries start collapsing from a removal of their network.

Even better – DDoS the White House website, and watch as they overreact by shutting down the internet. Best DDoS ever? I think so.

Josef says:

Re: Re: Succinctly...

Exactly correct. It seems that in order to pass any shady legislation now, all you have to do is suggest it protects from the terrorists.

The US has suffered the longest period of terrorism in its history. The Bush administration thrived on terrorizing the US. Now the broken remains of that administration are in the private sector continuing their work.

The IP Industry has been talking about how copyright infringement and patent infringement help “the terrorists” and put American’s at risk. Any politician buying that argument doesn’t deserve to be in office.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Here it is

IANAL, however, I have spent some time studying the law when it comes to the Fourth Amendment, and technically he is right (though what follows from him gets really hard to follow.) Probable cause only is required when it is unreasonable search and seizure (keep reading before you jump at me, and yes, that is very close to what he said, even though he did a really bad job of explaining it, which I’ll try to do below.)

Reasonable is defined so narrowly by the courts that just about all searches are unreasonable and thus require probable cause and a search warrant. An example of a legal and reasonable search and seizure which wouldn’t require probable cause/search warrant is if a police officer can see, in plain sight and where he/she is lawfully allowed to be, either a prohibited item or evidence of a crime.

Thus, if a police officer is walking down the street, and a small vial of cocaine (a prohibited item) pops out of someone’s pocket and lands on the street, the police officer has every right to seize that vial once determining that it is cocaine. The search and seizure was entirely lawful because it was reasonable.

Same is true if the cop pulls you over and there is a bloody baseball bat or bloody knife in the passenger seat of your car, and it is visible to all who look into the passenger compartment (under a blanket or other object doesn’t count.) A police officer can most certainly seize the evidence at that point, and detain and question you about who’s blood is on the bat or knife. Sure, there may be a perfectly good explanation for it (such as you hit or cut yourself,) and they may choose to let you go, but the seizure, even if temporary, was perfectly legal without probable cause. However, if the police finds a bloody knife in the car, that doesn’t automatically give them the right to open the trunk or go to your house and break in looking for a body, as they’d need probable cause and a search warrant to do that (which likely wouldn’t be hard to obtain fairly quickly given that there is evidence of a crime.)

However, if it is not visible, it would be unreasonable for a cop to see it, and thus they better have probable cause and a search warrant to search for it.

(Won’t get into exigent circumstances, search incident to arrest, or Terry-Patdowns, as those were gifts to law enforcement by the Supreme Court, but they are extremely narrow in their application and we could go on for hours discussing them.)

Overcast (profile) says:

There is no ration reason to shut down the entire internet.

Each ‘portion’ should be responsible for it’s own security. Including government.

Having a “kill switch” for GOVERNMENT to use for it’s own sites, is a great idea.

Past that – it’s stupid and with the way the internet is designed, it probably wouldn’t work anyway.

They can shut down a million bridges – but if one or two are open… traffic can flow.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

I hated that movie

Why is it that I’m having flashbacks to the new die hard movie? The movie was so technically inaccurate that I could not enjoy it.

The Internet was designed with the express intent of keeping communications up in the event of a nuclear war. Where a large portion of the connections could be destroyed, yet the rest still worked. How the hell do they expect to shut it down? There are thousands of nodes controlled by hundreds of different people with hundreds of different ways of doing things. These people have problems agreeing on new technologies to make their lives easier, how is the government going to convince them to take down a system that’s making them so much money?

Free Capitalist (profile) says:

Re: I hated that movie

These people have problems agreeing on new technologies to make their lives easier, how is the government going to convince them to take down a system that’s making them so much money?

Putting aside the technical complexities involved with making an effective “Internetz kill switch for terrorist attacks, parental uprisings and escaped truths” which you have put in a nutshell pretty well, I think I know the answer to that last question…


Anonymous Coward says:

Why politicians and public servants don’t have a kill switch?

Seriously though, the latest worm suspected to be from a hostile nation and apparently targeting Iran’s facilities is not even dependent on the internet it spreads via USB, what does the internet have to do with that?

Have the government lost control over their own servers and can’t control them anymore, have they suddenly put all their vital infra-structure on the same public network?

Of course there is a reason why someone want that power, but I don’t believe is for security reasons.

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