Can The Government Really Turn Off The Internet?

obamaOn CNN’s “State of the Union,” Senator Joseph Lieberman proposed  the idea of an “Internet kill switch” in a recent bill. The “Internet kill switch” will give the government the power to shut down parts of the Web in case of an emergency situation. But this bill has people worrying it would provide the government with too much control.

 

To answer this question, we’ll look at a direct quote from the show’s transcript :

CROWLEY: Let me ask you on a couple of other subjects in our final minutes here. First of all, you have an Internet bill, it has been called the “kill switch bill” that would allow the president to seize control or shut down portions of the Internet if the U.S. was under some sort of cyber attack.

LIEBERMAN : No way, and total misinformation. I don’t know whether people are intentionally pedalling misinformation. Here is the fact. Cyber war is going on in some sense right now. Our civilian infrastructure, the Internet that runs the electric grid, the telecommunications grid, transportation, all the rest is constantly being probed by nation states, by some terrorist groups, by organized criminal gangs. And we need this capacity in a time of war. We need the capacity for the president to say, Internet service provider, we’ve got to disconnect the American Internet from all traffic coming in from another foreign country, or we’ve got to put a patch on this part of it. The president will never take over — the government should never take over the Internet. Listen, we’ve consulted, Senator Collins and I, who are proposing this bill, with civil liberties and privacy experts. This is a matter of national security. A cyber attack on America can do as much or more damage today by incapacitating our banks, our communications, our finance, our transportation, as a conventional war attack. And the president, in catastrophic cases — not going to do it every day, not going to take it over. So I say to my friends on the Internet, relax…

If you’re wondering whether or not the government can really take over the Internet or shut it down completely, the answer is no. What the government can do is  shut down certain parts that are crucial to the country’s infrastructure when under attack. Plus, in the proposed bill, Congress would have to approve a shut down, so it will only be done when it really is a matter of national security.

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