Internet Kill Switch? s3480

  1. A bill is being introduced in the U.S. Congress aimed at addressing Cyber threats. The bill, dubbed, "Protecting Cyber Space as a National Asset" or PCNAA, gives authority to the executive branch over the internet. A popular tag for this bill, is the "Internet Kill Switch", for the power it would give to the president to shut down the internet in an emergency.

    Obviously this is going to cause controversy. Perhaps may be seen as a large expanse of federal power.

    My thoughts are that, there are probably always cyber security attacks every day. What is to stop the powers granted under this pretense from being abused?

    Any thoughts on this bill?
  2. jcsd
  3. DaveC426913

    DaveC426913 16,333
    Gold Member

    Strange. The entire creation and existence of the internet is predicated on the concept that it is distributed and therefore effectively invulnerable to system-wide disruption.

    I guess DARPA built it too well, and now realize they have created a monster that can double back on itself and bite them.
  4. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    Shut down the internet? The "internet" is not a physical "thing". It is thousands of private *agreements* between thousands of companies in the US alone. Shutting down the internet would be comparable to stopping traffic on roads, public and private. It ain't gonna happen. You might be able to talk a few companies into it, but you will never get everyone to. The government does not control thousands of individually owned companies. It's a bit more complicated when you get into peering points, but the bulk of traffic no longer goes through the NAPs. In other words, politicians do not know what they are talking about.

    Uhm, no.
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2010
  5. That reminds me of recent US-China crisis over google ... I have not read the news but all the content looks like full of BS.
  6. While I don't know enough to doubt that what you're saying is true (especially the last sentence), it's nevertheless kind of scary that people like Lieberman are proposing this sort of thing, and that it will therefore get a lot of attention, and therefore actually be considered as a viable option by who knows how many people who just can't seem to get enough 'protection'. Isn't he due to retire?
  7. mgb_phys

    mgb_phys 8,809
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    They need to change the warning on cartoons - this program is not suitable for elected officials, voter discretion is advised.

  8. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    It's not possible, that's not how the internet works.

    My specialty is the internet. I work for one of the largest backbone providers in the country, and worked for 27 years for the one that invented it with the US Government. I sell backbone access to ISP's.
  9. I imagine that the government has some level of control over the infrastructure. I'm sure that you are right though that it would be a logistical nightmare to try to accomplish it. Some people have been watching too much 24 I think.
  10. mgb_phys

    mgb_phys 8,809
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    But it's not always as distributed and redundant as you would hope.
    A lot of cables go through the US, even in Asia a lot of traffic involves a trip to Seattle and back.
    It could be good for the fiber laying business if china decides it needs a link to it's customers that doesn't rely on US goodwill or Russia decides to link Europe to Asia through the artic.

    There is also quite a lot the US can do to poison top level DNS since it has control of ICANN ultimately it can invalidate anyone else's registry (as it did with Iraq before GW-II)
  11. They don't control thousands of individually owned companies, and that is the point of the bill.

    Protecting the Internet as a National Asset Act. The penalty for non-compliance would be a fine.
  12. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    There are 3 major carriers that control the bulk of internet traffic in the US. Years ago internet traffic was severely hampered when a turn up of Cisco routers by AT&T ended up looping. A few years before that a similar problem was caused by LDDS which had UUNET (as part of Ebber's aquisitions), started dumping traffic onto AT&T's network.

    So could they cripple the internet traffic, yes, kill it, no.

    I really do not get why they would need to kill the internet. Are they going to kill all tv and radio? What's the point? An assinine bill by ignorant politicians.
  13. I've been watching the old episodes of 24 lately. Never watched the show before. Several times in the show "hackers" found "backdoors", or what have you, into government protected systems and the government were supposedly helpless do to anything about it apparently because of the awesome uncontrolled power of the internets! I think that now that we are coming to an age where "cyber attacks" are much more likely and much more sophisticated we are perhaps seeing a bit of a rehash of the hacker hysteria of the 80s and 90s back when Kevin Mitnick had a court order placed against him having access to any electronic equipment since, according to the prosecution, he could supposedly launch a nuke from his cellphone. I doubt people are much more educated about computers now than they were then.
  14. Control? TV and radio (and newspapers?) are pretty much already controlled by big business, and hence, governments. The internet is a bastion of freedom of speech. It's a means of developing popular mass movements relatively quickly, as well as a vast repository for various perspectives and accounts of objective reality that governments would prefer to 'inform and educate' their constituents about in certain ways, and so a threat to the status quo. It follows that governments would want to control it.
  15. Theoretically, couldn't the internet (of a target region) be "stopped" near-instantaneously by an airburst?
  16. turbo

    turbo 7,063
    Gold Member

    Can the US government kill the Internet? Probably not. Can they cripple Internet traffic? Probably, but to what effect? There would be unintended consequences that the morons in DC have never considered, nor have been briefed on by their equally clueless staffers.
  17. Having been on the wrong side of the fence, I would bet on the citizenry before the government when it comes to intranational traffic. This is just laughable, except that some lawmakers are considering this. They should sign a bill giving them super-strength and the power of unpowered flight while they're at it. :rofl:
  18. mgb_phys

    mgb_phys 8,809
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    SCADA networks control just about everything from the AC in the whitehouse to electricity grid and airport radar. To save money on cabling you just connect remote units to the internet, or to the same internal lan that is also connected to the internet.
    Since these are cheap dumb little micros with no security, or are protected by being on the same LAN as 1000s of Windows boxes it's pretty easy to think of a number, telnet in and type help to get the instructions to shut down major infrastructure.
    It's the equivalent of hospitals having a 'turn off life support' button on the sidewalk - unfortunately the governments response is naturally to ban sidewalks!
    Instead they are going to turn off internet connections to naughty countries after an attack has started - which is rather like preventing another 911 by banning direct flights from Afgahnistan.

    And that's just the non-paranoid, stupidity rather than malice assumption.
  19. In the bill, the term cyberspace actually is defined as,

    "(3) CYBERSPACE.—The term ‘‘cyberspace’’
    means the interdependent network of information in-
    frastructure, and includes the Internet, tele-
    communications networks, computer systems, and
    embedded processors and controllers in critical in-

    and information infrastructure as,

    term ‘‘information infrastructure’’ means the under-
    lying framework that information systems and assets
    rely on to process, transmit, receive, or store infor-
    mation electronically, including programmable elec-
    tronic devices and communications networks and any
    associated hardware, software, or data.

    So it seams, correct me if I'm wrong, that when they say cyberspace, they mean, everything from television, to radio, to telephones, ipads, to video cameras, memory cards, to thermostats etc.
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