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The State Versus the Internet

THE INTERNET KILL SWITCH This is a recent development that will almost certainly become law. The Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act gives Obama, all who succeed him, and before long almost every other ruler on the planet, an Internet "kill switch." And, yes, this can be done. The bill relies for its "lawfulness" on a 76-year-old piece of legislation called The Communications Act of 1934, which gives the president power to cause "the closing of any facility or stations for wire communication" in a time of war. Can you see why talk of "cyber-war" came up at the same time as this bill? Cyber-war – to digress for a moment – is still more of a meme than a reality. Stuxnet, for example, is spread primarily with USB sticks and attacks only special devices called PLCs, which are more intelligent-motor-starter than Internet terminal. That program had to have been built and tested on other PLCs, which was a completely different operation than writing an Internet Trojan. But, back to our new law… This law would establish a White House Office for Cyberspace Policy and a National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications, which would work with private US companies to "create cybersecurity requirements for the electrical grid, telecommunications networks and other critical infrastructure." Any operation of the Kill Switch would be limited to 120 days, but could, of course, by extended by Congress. Note two things about this: The technical method of implementation is not in the bill, so it can be whatever "experts" decide. The requirements will be applied to "critical infrastructure."

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