Kill Switch: President Can Shut Down Internet for 4 Months

by | Jun 26, 2010 | Headline News | 21 comments

Do you LOVE America?


    A Senate Committee has approved a cyber security bill that would give the President the authority to shut down parts of the internet for up to four months without Congressional approval in the event of a cyber attack.

    The Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, which is being pushed hard by Senator Joe Lieberman, would hand absolute power to the federal government to close down networks, and block incoming Internet traffic from certain countries under a declared national emergency.

    Despite the Center for Democracy and Technology and 23 other privacy and technology organizations sending letters to Lieberman and other backers of the bill expressing concerns that the legislation could be used to stifle free speech, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee passed in the bill in advance of a vote on the Senate floor.

    In response to widespread criticism of the bill, language was added that would force the government to seek congressional approval to extend emergency measures beyond 120 days. Still, this would hand Obama the authority to shut down the Internet on a whim without Congressional oversight or approval for a period of no less than four months.

    From what we gather, under a declaration of war the President could take the unprecedented action of shutting down some or all of the internet.

    Red Button Kill SwitchSupporters of the bill argue that vulnerable private networks like communications and utilities could be the first to come under attack. In a previous article we noted that it would take about 15 minutes to cripple the entire United States in such an event. Everything from just-in-time food distribution systems to text messaging could be disabled by an attack on the US internet infrastructure.

    While a threat most certainly exists, and we believe that cyber security policies should be implemented on the Federal level from a national security perspective, there are obvious dangers to liberty with laws such as this, especially if a single branch of government has complete tyrannical control.

    It is not exactly clear under what conditions the President could exercise these emergency powers. Though, it doesn’t really matter what’s in the bill, as the President can simply sign an executive order directive to do the same at anytime and for any reason.

    Take, for example, a situation where mass protests and/or riots were to spread across major cities in the United States. If law enforcement was unable to contain these events, under emergency powers, the President would have the power to immediately shut down internet social networking, email or even text messaging service, preventing would-be protesters from communicating and organizing.

    Another example could be found in historical precedent, when the US Congress passed the Sedition Act of 1918 – an obvious violation of first amendment rights:

    Excerpt from Section 3

    Whoever, when the United States is at war, shall willfully make or convey false reports…with intent to interfere with the operation…of the military or naval forces of the United States…

    or say or do anything…to an investor…with intent to obstruct the sale by the United States of bonds or other securities…

    and whoever when the United States is at war, shall willfully cause or attempt to cause… insubordination… in the military or naval forces of the United States,

    or shall willfully obstruct or attempt to obstruct the recruiting or enlistment services of the United States

    and whoever, when the United States is at war, shall willfully utter, print, write or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of government of the United States or the Constitution…or the military or naval forces of the United States, or the flag…

    or shall willfully utter, print, write, or publish any language intended to incite, provoke, or encourage resistance to the United States…

    or shall willfully by utterance, writing, printing, publication, or language spoken, urge…any curtailment of production in this country of any thing…necessary…to the prosecution of the war…

    and whoever shall willfully advocate…the doing of any of the acts or things in this section enumerated…or favor the cause of any country with which the United States is at war…

    shall be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000 or the imprisonment for not more than twenty years, or both….

    Thus, this is nothing new, even though President Obama and Senator Joe Lieberman are easy targets for our frustration and anger. Once this cyber security bill passes Congress, it will be clear that there are several hundred elected officials to blame, not just one or two.

    The most difficult thing to accept, however, is that once such powers are implemented there will be no easy way for the American people to organize to overturn it, as all communication systems that make it possible for people to network will be under control of the Executive branch.


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      1. Unless the commentators on this particular issue can cite where in this proposal it states the president can effectively use a “kill switch” to turn the internet off for up to 120 days, then I can only conclude this is nothing more than fear mongering.

        I read the document that has been cited, and I saw nothing that is stated to that effect. In fact the only mention of 120 days, is in this context…

        Section 248: The Director of the NCCC will work with the private sector and relevant sector specific agencies to identify and evaluate cyber vulnerabilities to covered critical infrastructure on a sector-by-sector basis. The Director will submit the findings to Congress within 120 days.

      2. You left out, “by the order of the Führer Adolph Hitler.”

        last line amended to: “shall be punished by death by firing squad or if no bullets are available, by hanging.”

      3. What a joke.  Why can’t we get a kill switch for all of washington?

      4. Bill   +100 — it would be nice!

        KP, I read the relevant sections of this bill as well. Though the 120-day language you cite is hazy in my view, I believe it can be used in conjunction with Section 249:

        • “If the President determines there is a credible threat to exploit cyber vulnerabilities of the covered critical infrastructure, the President may declare a national cyber emergency, with notification to Congress and owners and operators of affected covered critical infrastructure. The notification must include the nature of the threat, the reason existing security measures are deficient, and the proposed emergency measures needed to address the threat. If the President exercises this authority, the Director of the NCCC will issue emergency measures necessary to preserve the reliable operation of covered critical infrastructure. Any emergency measures issued under this section will expire after 30 days unless the Director of the NCCC or the President affirms in writing that the threat still exists or the measures are still needed.”

        I guess this is open to interpretation.

        First, it is clear that the President can take whatever steps he deems necessary to eliminate the cyber threat. If the threat still exists, he must explain in writing after 30 days.

        In terms of section 248 which you cite, i don’t think that it applies only to an initial threat assessment when the bill goes into effect. The words are vague in this regard, which suggests that this section may mean that if the President shuts down the web or any critical elements of the web that are vulnerable (i.e. stock exchange, or banks, or merchant systems, etc.), he and the NCCC will need to submit to Congress, within 120 days, the new changes they’ve come up with to deal with the cyber vulnerabilities that led to use of emergency powers. This would essentially provide the Executive branch and NCCC a 120 day window to come up with a plan to deal with the threat.

        To me, this makes sense, as cyber vulnerabilities will change over time. If any emergency actions are taken under this bill, then section 248 could apply for each new action taken by the President and NCCC.

        This is where the 120 day / 4 month  window is coming from.

      5. That’s fine, we’ll not pay taxes and shut the government down.   

      6. wonderful…so if/when the SHTF those of us who are trying to reach out to others to stand a fighting chance won’t even be able to connect with each other via internet.  Gotta love how the Obama administration is yanking the already slim constitutional rights left courtesy of the Bush administration.
        Mac any ideas on how quickly this could be pushed into Law? is there anything we can do to even try to stop it or is it hopeless?

        • Yup. If you can’t say something good, say it about Obama. The president does not and can not write laws. That is a function of congress. C O N G R E S S. Terrible laws are being passed. By who? Who has the votes? Who voted for those congressmen/women? Martians?

      7. I don’t know that much about networks or phone lines,but could someone enlighten me on how anyone could “flip a kill switch” and cut off all the internet without killing the banking system,airline reservations,businesses,teenagers communicating,college correspondence courses,TSHTFANPLAN,etc,etc,etc,?

      8. Kyle, i wouldn’t say hopeless, but difficult for sure. When they were passing the Bailout bill and the Health care bill, the White House and congressional switchboards were taking something like 100,000 calls an hour… I can guarantee you those people weren’t calling in support of that legislation, but it still passed.

        Even if we were to prevent passage of an internet kill switch bill, the President has executive authority to do whatever is necessary doing a national emergency. If you haven’t yet, check out the first 20 minutes of Police State 4: The Rise of FEMA and Alex Jones goes over several EO’s already in effect that do everything from give the government total control over your vehicle to allowing total seizure of food supplies and anything else the government deems necessary for the emergency response efforts.

        Dave, in regards to the kill switch, I don’t necessarily think they will shut down the entire thing all at once. They can focus on any one of those particular segments, however. They would do this on the service provider level. Within the bill mentioned in this post is a provision for service providers and security firms that  releases them from any liability if they are given a directive. We can be assured that major providers, say like Comcast, AT&T, Time Warner, etc., will have direct contact with the new Cyber Security department. All it takes is a simple call.

        A simple call to Comcast, et. al. saying “Shut down all access to the following forums because they are materially supporting terrorist related activity” would be enough. It can literally be done within a matter of a few minutes. The same with search engines, news sites, etc.

        The bill, of course, is reportedly designed to be outward facing and according to our elected officials will not be used for these purposes. It’s purportedly designed to protect national infrastructure elements of the web, so for example, if our water utility companies came under attack, the President would essentially have authority to shut down all internet based access to those IP address blocks, or prevent any access to our internet from certain IP blocks or countries — to be honest, this makes sense from a national security perspective.

        In regards to a TOTAL kill switch, it could be done on several levels 1) ISP providers would simply be asked to shut down 2) they could shut down the servers used to route all IP traffic.

        When you type in, your computer sends a request to a centralized database and asks it what IP address = SHTFplan… your browsing session is then routed accordingly. They could simply shut down these databases and boom, all public internet traffic is toast.

        They could very easily do this with wireless and hardline phone lines as well… Being from a telecom background, I can tell you that when one of these centralized databases go down, it takes down the entire network… In the early 2000’s the network we worked on was attacked by ‘unknown’ (we suspect the Chinese for a number of reasons)… The attack completely took down data and phone service to customers in three major metropolitan areas for 48 hours.. So it is very easy to do…

        The point is, they basically have total control now of which parts of the internet stay up, and which will go down in the event of an emergency.

        Imagine some sort of attack on the US — I don’t know, maybe nuclear or dirty bomb, or whatever — and then all public access to the web is terminated.. You’ll have absolutely no way of knowing what is going on, because I suspect they would take down phone systems as well…. TV / Radio waves would also be taken over….

        At that point, information flow will depend on CB, shortwave radio, HAM operators, etc., and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were able to jam and/or trace those signals and shut them down as well depending on what was going on.

        I’m not saying this is going to happen. I’m just saying that this bill makes it clear that it could happen if the govt deemed it necessary.

      9. Comments…..While all of this may be fear mongering, I read somewhere that when the ISPs were informed of this proposal, they had a “choice”.
        The choice was, take part in this plan OR BE FINED, HEAVILY!
        Can anyone here spell E-X-T-O-R-T-I-O-N!!!
        Or perhaps a bizarre twist on PROTECTION MONEY!
        As with most of the unsavory incidents that have happened in our lives in the past 10 years or so, the ONLY affect has been a removal of the “little peoples” rights and freedoms ostensibly for the GREATER GOOD!
        Leaving aside the possibility that some of these events may have been “manufactured” the result is still the same.
        The more I read, the more I feel that the US and maybe dozens of other Nations are inexorably moving towards adopting the “CHINA” model.
        Birth control, mind control, Internet censoring, total obedience etc.
        “This would be an easy job if it was a Dictatorship… and I was the Dictator” G. W. Bush.[E&OE]
        I also have a Telecom background and my country is planning to implement a Fibre Network [replacing copper FOREVER] right to the customers premises, under the banner of High Speed Internet access for ALL!
        HOWEVER, once implemented, if there is a mains power cut, your Internet is broken and your home phone is too.
        Mobiles may still work but that network is also easily “restricted”.
        New technology is so great…. while it’s working!
        I truly value sites such as this where non-mainstream news is freely available.
        There are so many sheeples that have not a clue about how things are shaping up, it really scares me!
        Well, I suppose the good news is that the US and maybe everyone else, has the best Government that money can buy!

      10. OK, I’ve pondered this internet access thing for a few years.  To me a logical back-up system would be a good short wave radio.  Then you can pick up the news from Australia, Britain, or Canada.  (And for all you Spanish speaking illegal aliens, Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala) 

        Radios worked fine in WW2.   They’ll work fine today.
        Obama’s social/political disease is confined to the U.S. so should not infect the news integrity of other countries.

        Now if someone could come out with some recommendations on brands, models, prices that would be most helpful.  I know Kenwood makes some nice base units but am not sure if price and portability are suitable to all readers.   My understanding is that you can make a mess of shortwave radios if they are not set up correctly.   

        The beauty of shortwave is that you don’t need a damn modem,  or ISP hook-up .  

        The international airwaves are still free, let’s plan on using those when Obama’s fascists in D.C. pull the internet plug.

        If anyone has recommendation on short wave radios please share them.       

        Short wave radios might be a good subject for a future article.   

      11. Have you ever wondered how the people of Germany in the 1930’s, a seemingly intelligent group, ended up with a fascist state, a dictator, and a world war? People in America today ask, “How could they let that happen?”, “Why didn’t they stand up and say NO?”. It seems that now the people of America will no longer have to ask those questions. They will have the experience for themselves. There is no greater teacher than experience.

      12. Paul, it’s an article I have considered putting together. However, I am very limited on this type of knowledge. I have a good friend who was a communication specialist in the military, spent 2 years in Iraq, and I have been meaning to touch base with him on comm systems.

        I took a look at different shortwave/HAM products and, well, there are hundreds of them out there, so I would hate to make incorrect recommendations. I plan on joining the local amateur radio operators club this year, so I will hopefully pick up the necessary novice knowledge there.

        FYI: most major cities have radio clubs and they are usually free to attend, so that would be a good start for anyone interested.

      13. Comments…..When SHTF you don’t have to worry about using anything that requires electricity.
        May be start thinking about getting some pigeons and string along with small roll up paper. Then again I don’t how many birds will survive in the foul air after the latest gulf mess.
        How about the movie Postman we’ll send people on horses to deliver messages. Who knows?

      14. Smoke Signals

      15. Oh my, where will all of you “patriots” get your free porn if they shut down the internet.

      16. Comments…..Please   show   me   where   in  the   document  does   it   give  anybody   the  power  to  shut  down   the  internet    for   4 
        weeks   or  any  period  of  time.    I   could  find   this  spelled  out.  Thank  you

      17. I’ve wrapped up some different types of comm. equipment in aluminum foil, to protect the circuitry from possible EMP’s. No, I’m not crazy, I did’nt say to wear a tin-foil hat! But, if you wanna talk to me after the SHTF, you’re gonna need some walk-talks….

      18. The Feds won’t shut down the entire internet….just sites like this one……ones that try to inform people on whats really going on.
        Keep up the good work Mac……for as long as it last.

      19. Typical for all that is wrong with America! Even the need to shut down the Internet by the government – the one that is of the people, for the people – is ludicrous !
        Porn! in place of intelligent articles, Gamers! while Chinese teenagers ply the net even invade American military, satellites, corporate secrets,even the great financial houses, banks, generators, power dams, curious more than doing damage, and looking for something to sell, some information in exchange for cash!
        America sells taxes and makes money from tobacco sales, and cannot develop a “kill Switch” for it, what makes you think that the wired world can be “shut down” so easily?
        Should Israel play the American’s military hand for them, bomb Iran, will we lose our Internet, gain conscription, and face a nuclear Holocaust, all without Internet communication? Sheeple?” Victims of the Uber-Rich? Are we “Free”?

      20. Remember, senator Lieberman is a dual citizen with Israel.

        He, along with Julius Genachowski, a Talmudic Jew, FCC chief are dedicated to scrubbing the ability of “the Goyim” (they call us “cattle”) to discuss their tactics & Israel first objectives which cost & harm the US immeasurably.

        We must never shy away from mentioning this group or pointing out the tendencies of them to gain control of our speech & liberties.

        If you feel intimidated by mentioning their “tribe’s” name, that is proof that you’ve been conditioned not to.

        Not only are “they” dedicated to ending the net & our ability to see much more than what they’re comfortable with, they’re also the biggest advocates for grabbing our guns; Feinstein, Levin, Lautenberg, Bloomberg, Wasserman Shultz, Waxman, Wexler, Harman, Lowey, Boxer, Sanders (both), I could keep typing their names for twenty minutes.


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