If You Ask The Question In A Certain Way, 61% Of Americans Say They Support An Internet Kill Switch
from the but-you-gotta-read-the-question dept
Slashdot points us to a story claiming that 61% of Americans “support an internet kill switch.” Of course, this is a topic that’s been hotly debated lately, with some attempt at passing laws that aren’t really a “kill switch,” but merely a coordinated way to reroute internet traffic in the event of some sort of “attack” (broadly defined) from a particular country.
That 61% number certainly sounded pretty high, and I was doubly skeptical when I read that the study came from Unisys, a security company who clearly stands to profit from greater “worries” about the still apparently bogus concept of “cyberwar.” And, of course, people always point out that you can get a survey to say pretty much anything you want, depending on how you ask the question. So I went digging to see if I could find exactly what question Unisys (and its partner Lieberman Research Group) used to get this result. It took a bit of searching, but here’s the question:
If there were clear evidence of a malicious cyber-security attack by a foreign government against our military, civilian government, electrical grid, financial systems, or other critical infrastructure, should the President have the authority to take control of or effectively shut down portions of the Internet to mitigate a crisis?
First of all, that’s a big, big “if” right at the beginning there. Second, all of this assumes that an attack on the military, the government, the electrical grid, the financial system or other “critical infrastructure” could actually come via the internet. This isn’t a reason to support an internet kill switch. It’s a reason to get people to ask more reasonable questions, rather than broadbased scary questions, without highlighting the corresponding concerns, civil liberties issues and other worries. If you make any question “scary” enough, you can get people to agree with you, but that hardly means that people would actually want such a kill switch if they understood (a) the likelihood of such an attack, (b) what such a “kill switch” would actually mean, and (c) what alternatives there are.
In other words, this is pure propaganda from Unisys, rather than any bit of meaningful data.