New Senate Bill Proposes President Can Disconnect the Internet

9 replies
A proposed Senate bill would allow the President
to disconnect private-sector companies from
the Internet in a cybersecurity emergency...

Bill would give president emergency control of Internet | Politics and Law - CNET News

I'm all for National Security, but imagine it would
be pretty financially painful while it lasted!

#bill #disconnect #internet #president #proposes #senate
  • Profile picture of the author Jeff Henshaw
    A similar thing in the UK. The Government can control the use of telephone lines in an emergency, so that only emergency services and specific telephone numbers registered in advance, would be able to communicate.

    Because I worked for a particular organization, I had two 'protected' telephone numbers that would function under such emergency restrictions. I don't have them now by the way (unless they remain in the database) as I no longer work for that organization.

    I'm not sure if these potential restrictions are good or bad, but I think that I would consider them necessary in a national emergency.

    Just my thoughts,

    Jeff Henshaw.
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  • Profile picture of the author GainRealWealth
    Wow, that's interesting. Not sure if that's a good thing or bad thing, but considering that someone may at some point successfully damage a lot of Internet commerce, that could be a good thing. Apparently if they are considering it, then a threat has been made by someone already. Interesting none the least.
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    • Profile picture of the author JakeDaly
      This is nothing but great. They have a similar thing with the radio and television broadcasts in case the President needs to nationally broadcast a very important statement. If a cyberattack did ever occur on the scale where the President of the United States had to intervene, and certainly people will try, it would potentially save all of your businesses and you would do nothing but thank him.

      The Internet and it's technologies are far beyond the point where people's ACTUAL lives are intertwined into it and some very bad people, over the course of the rest of humanity, are going to try everything into their power to override it. This is a simple precaution that had to be taken at some point and the people who have qualms towards the new Health Care or stimulus packages and automatically roll their eyes at each new law being passed these days need to understand that this will undoubtedly benefit tens of millions of people throughout America.
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  • Profile picture of the author JakeDaly
    I hate discussing politics but this argument is less political than it is common sense: For all you people screaming communism, do you really think the U.S. government would shut down the Internet for anything less(or similar to) something that had the potential to destroy all of your business, backups and computer files? Rest assured there's a shady motherf**ker in Belarus trying to write the script right now. It's not like the government is trying to pass a law that would allow them to watch you through your computer screen. They're protecting you. I understand communistic ways can be veiled as "forms of protection" when being passed as law but this certainly isn't one of them.

    I find updated versions of Google Earth far more imposing than the ability for our government to protect us from a cyberattack. And you guys certainly weren't bitching when you were able to look at your local Dairy Queen's parking lot from a birds eye view.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kay King
    This bill was made public last April - but the major media didn't mention it till now.

    In 2001 all planes were grounded - did we know that could happen? I didn't. Honestly, I doubt a bill is needed to allow the top official to do anything deemed necessary in an attack. Consider "martial law".

    When Jackson died, Twitter was overwhelmed with people telling each other about it. In a major cyber attack, could search engines and sites have the same result? Would it harm business to close it down temporarily - or save them from cyber attack? I don't know. Could you do business online if large portions of the internet were as overwhelmed as Twitter was? Probably not. Could it happen? I don't know.

    "yes, we are crazy" - because we jump to our chosen sides and parrot what our "side" says...and the truth is usually in the middle and ignored by both sides.

    I think the bill (which has not yet been passed) gives a right to do something that probably could be done anyway whether we like it or not.


    Saving one dog will not change the world - but the world will change forever for that one dog.
    It takes nothing away from a human to be kind to an animal.
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  • Profile picture of the author Dan C. Rinnert
    Apparently the most recent version of the bill also gives them power to regulate who you can hire and how your data can be used if they consider your network to be "critical." The language is very vague and not precise at all so, as it is, it would give the government a rather wide net to determine if a particular network was "critical."

    And given the government's own track record on cyber security, I don't think we want these clowns telling the private sector how to do things.

    Dan's content is irregularly read by handfuls of people. Join the elite few by reading his blog:, following him on Twitter: or reading his fiction: but NOT by Clicking Here!

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  • Profile picture of the author Floyd Fisher
    While this particular legislation needs the heave-ho, realize the internet does control a ton of stuff these days.

    How many of you in this room use voice over IP phone service?

    How many of you use services like Ameritrade?

    Did you know the stock market, and major financial institutions use the internet?

    Then there is the future Smart Grid, which whether you like it or not, will be totally controlled via the internet.

    Now imagine how much havoc could be caused if any or all of that went offline?

    So I'd say yes, there is a need for some protection. Maybe not as this bill requires, but something does need to be there.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mark Riddle
    The Short answer, is that the government doesn't have access control to anything other than the federally hosted backbone.

    The majority of the Backbones in use are privately held, and much of what people consider the internet is actually a virtual private network held by the major players.

    The telecom laws that govern the "internet" are largely un-able to do anything with the structure as it is no longer telecom based.

    When Katrina hit New Orleans, the government abandoned the southern route back bone, and so did ATT Telecom.

    It was private citizens that provided the huge diesel generators and the fuel to power the backbone, at the rate of a tanker truck about every 3 days.

    The Government still has access and control of their private network, so any mention of the government needing to be able to communicate and to prevent cyber attacks to their systems has very little to do with the facts in the matter.

    The Government is quite clear about their desire to be able to restrict access and traffic on private networks, this was first introduced in the late 80's.

    This was one of the projects that led to the creation of the electronic frontier foundation.

    In short, the Government believes that they should have the power to siege any and all methods or devices that could possibly be used to undermine the wants and the ideals of current and future policies.

    And this power should be "Self Held" meaning that by their own "Choices and Directives" that they have a responsibility to the citizens to protect the core of the government from all attacks.

    The EFF has been working to maintain the freedom of not only the citizens of the US, but also assist people internationally when it comes to privacy and freedom of expression.

    In October 29 2008 the Global Network Initiative (GNI) was founded upon its "Principles on Freedom of Expression and Privacy".

    The Bill is an attempt to codify what many in the government already believe is within their current power to enforce.

    Mark Riddle
    Today isn't Yesterday, - Products are everywhere if your eyes are Tuned!
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    • Profile picture of the author Paul Myers
      First comment: If you're going to react based on the misleading title of the story, don't waste your time. It's not an accurate representation of the situation at all.

      Second, if you don't think some sort of centralized response mechanism is necessary for responding to cyber-attacks, you are less informed than you should be on the issue. The potential vecotrs for attack, and the known potential targets, make this a critical activity. The question isn't "should" they do it, but rather can they do it effectively.

      Third, if you haven't taken strong steps to protect your system from falling under the control of an outside party, you'd be much better off spending your time working on that than theorizing that this is some evil scheme to expand government control.

      The most powerful form of brute force attacks online at the moment is the existence of large and decentralized botnets. Private computers, like the one you're using to read this, which are infected with programs that let some remote party make your system do things without your knowledge.

      The scope, size and capabilities of these bot networks is constantly growing. Many of them are already sufficient to take down very large sites and legitimate networks, without external help or cooperation between controllers. They're mostly used for spamming, phishing and DDoS attacks, but that could change in a day.

      The threat these tools pose is extraordinary, and cannot continue to be ignored or treated as a casual inconvenience.

      Similar problems exist for hosted servers and many other systems connected to the Net. And then there are the problems associated with individual or small-group intrusions, attacks by agents of foreign governments, and the ever-present threat of an "inside job." These are all greater threats to your privacy, security and personal finances than anything the government is likely to consider, even in the case of abuse of the system.

      That said, we should pay attention to this and work to keep even the smallest abuses from occurring, where possible. One does not secure freedom by changing masters.

      Remember, this isn't about reading your private emails (they can already do that if they want) or controlling your actions online. It's about actual threats to real systems on which people's lives and daily activities depend. Some examples to consider:

      The networks which control ATM machines, credit card systems cash transfers and other financial transactions. Let someone get even minor control or blockage on these systems, and there'd be hell to pay. You'd be the one getting the bill for it.

      The telephone network, especially emergency responder systems: Take down the phone system, or just the switches involving emergency responders, in an area and you've got people dying, unnecessary property loss and random failures in response to criminal activity.

      If that's co-ordinated with a serious attack of some other kind, it could be disastrous, multiplying the damage of the offline event.

      The stock exchanges: Consider the potential damage if an attacker could gain control of even a small portion of the systems that control stock trading or commodities exchanges.

      Transportation control systems: Air traffic controls, switching systems for subways and trains, or even something as simple as the controls for traffic lights, where those are centralized. Use your imagination.

      SMS (text messaging) servers/systems: How much damage could someone do by sending ominous threats to masses of people via text messages? Or spreading false stories through the same medium? Or simply flooding the system with garbage, or stopping it entirely?

      SMS is not just used by teenagers. A lot of secruity systems use it for notifications, along with companies that rely on it for employee communications.

      News sites: A very simple social hack. Plant false stories simultaneously on a few of the major news sites, and you could create a panic, with the results being affected largely by the focus of the story.

      These are just a few potential problems, from among the hundreds (or thousands) that could be made to happen through attacks on the virtual infrastructure. There are many that are much worse than anything I've listed here.

      Just think about the number of things that can be affected or controlled by network-connected interfaces. Then consider that there are people out there already planning or developing systems to attack most of them.

      The problem is already huge. It could get much bigger very quickly with the right kind of attack. And we're not anything like ready for it.

      You'd be surprised at the damage that can be done by just one (1) compromised machine on a broadband connection. There are millions of such compromised machines out there, right now.

      Stop by Paul's Pub - my little hangout on Facebook.

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