Should the US have a ‘kill switch’ on the internet to be used in a national emergency?
A committee in the US senate has approved a cybersecurity bill that would give the US President the authority to shut down parts of the internet during a cyber attack. However the internet is an international place and is normally decentralised. Trying to centralise cybersecurity may not be helpful. However the president may already have this authority and cyber attacks are an increasing problem so the US needs clear up to date legislation. Would a ‘kill switch’ be the right thing to do?
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Definitely not! It would send American society into mass panic!
People use the internet. A LOT of people use the internet - for everything from chatting and plotting and book-writing and debating to banking and work. That's just too much power for somebody to have.
Not only the American public, but people all over the world would feel the consequences, even if other countries would have nothing to do with the attack. I believe I am not wrong if I say that a majority of internet services keep their servers on US soil. What happens if they get cut off?
The internet is an online community; it shouldn't be OWNED by anyone.
The internet is a vast, global means of communication, and a valuable source of information. People are allowed to own small parts of the internet, for example, their website, but the internet as a whole should never be controlled. One of the greatest features of the internet is the freedom, and creating a 'kill switch' will only destroy this freedom.
There are already a lot of ways of tracking people down on the internet, such as IP addresses and packet sniffing, and so these methods should be stuck to. A kill switch is too harsh and unfair on those innocent people who will lose internet access because of another person's fault.
The internet is expanding rapidly, and when given the gift of anonymity, people become a great deal bolder. It is then that problems begin to arise, such as planned attacks and harassment.
The powers of the internet are easily demonstrated, and one simply example would be the 'Rick Roll' phenonemon; a small group of people managed to spread this craze throughout the entire internet. And this is just one example of of millions, and they are not all as harmless as this one.
A kill switch would be useful during a cyber attack as it would prevent the damage done, or at least lesson the severity of it, and would control the situation. If the internet went down for other people too, then I am sure that they can last a short while without it.
The internet is the last bastion of freedom and truly free speach in an ever-more controlled world.
While things like child pornography and snuff films must be banned for reasons of public safety, the kill-switch idea gives the government too much control over the public's ability to share ideas and information. In the technological age, every move you make can be tracked. Physical correspondence can easily be shut down or squelched. The internet is the last bastion of freedom of thought, of true debate. If we give that up in exchange for some so-called 'security', we risk losing our freedom of speech.
It is not possible anyway
The internet was originally developed as a system to minimise the chances of military communications being knocked out by an attack. The principle is that information is placed into packets and addressed to a destination computer or network. If one part of the network goes down, the internet routers will automatically seek an alternative route to the destination computer.
Therefore, by definition, there can no centralised off switch. If one part of the network is disabled, data will normally simply be delivered by an alternative route. Any attempt to centralise control destroys the whole concept of the Internet.
The idea makes no more sense than to ask "Should some politician have the power to shut the road network?".
What do you think?