Will the U.S. get an Internet "Kill Switch"?
Posted in: Legal, Privacy & Security at 06/03/2011 19:59
In the past month we've seen two countries try to "turn off" the Internet. On January 27, in Egypt, which had previously known few restrictions on Internet access (though, to be sure, intimidation of bloggers and activists was common), nearly all ISPs stopped delivering bits to their subscribers, even though data transiting Egypt from the outside world kept flowing normally. One Egyptian ISP, Noor, stayed up for a few days amidst speculation that it had been spared because major banks and the Egyptian stock exchange were subscribers; subsequently it went down, too. Internet access was then restored before the Mubarak government fell. In Libya, irregular nationwide outages lasting anywhere from a few minutes to seven hours have been occurring since the February 19.
This is nearly unprecedented; only brief incidents in Nepal and Burma, in 2005 and 2007 respectively, could compare. The events have renewed debate over proposed U.S. legislation that might give the government a similar ability to pull the plug on Internet communications in an emergency.