Wired.com “Internet ‘Kill Switch’ Legislation Back in Play”

In a posting by David Kravets, Wired.com reports that "legislation granting the president internet-killing powers is to be reintroduced soon" in the Senate's Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.  Specifically, the bill is S. 3480, the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act.

Sen. Susan Collins, the ranking Republican on the Committee and sponsor of the bill, says that her "'legislation would provide a mechanism for the government to work with private sector in the event of a true cyber emergency. It would give our nation the best tools available to swiftly respond to a significant threat.'"

According to a congressional aide for the Committee, the bill would not "mandate the shuttering of the entire internet. Instead it would authorize the president to demand turning off access to so-called 'critical infrastructure' where necessary." 

Wired.com points out that the definition of "true cyber emergency" is unclear, as is the ability of the government to know when such an emergency is imminent.  Much less clear is why the operator at any particular  critical infrastructure site could not "shutter itself if it detected a looming attack."

In response to news of the "kill switch's" reintroduction, 24  groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Association of Law Libraries, the Center for Democracy and Technology, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, joined in a letter to the Committee, calling for reconsideration of the bill.  Specifically, the letter calls for the section (authorizing the shuttering of the internet) to "be amended to articulate the specific emergency actions the [National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications] can compel, and any applicable limits on those actions."


The entire story from Wired.com can be found at the link provided above, or here.  The letter from the privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties groups is available above, or here

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Professor William Snyder

Professor William C. Snyderis a member of the faculty of the Institute for National Security and Counter-terrorism at Syracuse University after fifteen years with the United States Department of Justice.

Ryan D. White

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