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The Internet Government

Court: Homeland Security Must Disclose 'Internet Kill Switch' 228

Posted by timothy
from the aw-do-I-have-ta? dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) must disclose its plans for a so-called Internet 'kill switch,' a federal court ruled on Tuesday. The United States District Court for the District of Columbia rejected the agency's arguments that its protocols surrounding an Internet kill switch were exempt from public disclosure and ordered the agency to release the records in 30 days. However, the court left the door open for the agency to appeal the ruling."
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Court: Homeland Security Must Disclose 'Internet Kill Switch'

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  • First po (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 14, 2013 @12:32PM (#45423341)

    First po

  • by Bucc5062 (856482) <bucc5062.gmail@com> on Thursday November 14, 2013 @12:34PM (#45423375)

    "However, the court left the door open for the agency to appeal the ruling.""

    I never understand this thinking. I am under the impression that when a judgement goes against you, you can appeal the decision. The court is set up already for that thinking so what or how does this court do something different. When I read that I get the feeling that the "Court" felt ugly for their ruling and really really hopes that aggrieved party will appeal.

    I do hope they don't or if they do, they fail for I would love to know about a switch that can "kill" the internet. A system designed to route around such devices.

     

    • by bob_super (3391281) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @12:47PM (#45423504)

      It depends whether you just kill DNS and wait for most users to give up, or want to kill everything at once and have to reach into the many central nodes that would bring the internet to its knees if they were off.

      You don't need to take down that many major nodes for everybody else to become suddenly over-congested and fundamentally useless.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sl4shd0rk (755837)

      I never understand this thinking.

      In the US, it seems to usually work like this:

      politician: "I just got a shit ton of cash from KKK and Bros. to push for a new law so they can add raw sewage to their energy drink as a filler"
      Judge:"Wtf? The FDA would never approve that!"
      (Enter Bob. Head of FDA. Previous Monsanto lobbyist)
      politician:"Hey bob, I'll vote for that new GMO corn thing to ride on the coattails of HSF.32 if you approve this thing for KKK Bros."
      Bob:"It's a deal!"
      Judge:"I'll never allow this. It's inhumane!"
      Politician:"Fine, we'll

      • by DexterIsADog (2954149) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @01:58PM (#45424158)
        In your scenario, a politician is arguing with a judge about a law the politician is supposedly *going to* introduce as a bill, and the judge is objecting that he, personally, will never allow that? Then the politician finds a judge to sign off on this bill approved by the head of the FDA (not even submitted to the legislature at that point), and boom, it's a law?

        You've made a total hash of how the U.S. political and legal system work, and your scenario makes no sense at all. How in the world did this get modded insightful?

        Just to clarify;
        Politician writes bill.
        Politician may look for co-sponsors to strengthen the bill's chances.
        Politician proposes bill, or attaches it as an amendment to some other bill.
        Legislature debates bill and passes it or not.
        Bill becomes law.
        FDA, private citizens, or other interested parties may choose to sue to overturn the law.
        THEN the judiciary gets involved.
        • First step is wrong. Everybody knows it's ALEC who writes all the bills.
        • by gl4ss (559668)

          why? because that's how the system really works and the politicians haven't bothered changing the laws fully to comply with policies in a long time, since you would need more people to agree, or possibly break the commitments of the nation(and get even more people to agree) - why bother when you can find a judge who will agree that metadata isn't data or that since you're renting a piece of land from cuba the usual rules don't apply or that you can force your citizens to not computer gamble abroad or that a

        • So he was oversimplifying it a bit. Big freakin' deal; that's still the spirit of the process.

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      I never understand this thinking. I am under the impression that when a judgement goes against you, you can appeal the decision.

      My exceedingly limited understanding (IANAL) is it leaves them open to appeal based on specific points of law not initially addressed in the ruling.

      So if someone said "we object to X", and they rule on that, that's what the ruling is about. I think this leaves them room to come back and say "but we can do X because of Y and you're wrong", and then the court can rule if the argumen

    • DHS was granted 30 days before they have to release the document, to allow time for an appeal.

      You can always appeal, but it sometimes an appeal would be pointless because it would be too late.
      In this case, plaintiff wants a document released. Normally, that would mean the document would be released immediately.
      How do you appeal a decision to release a document AFTER it's been released, though? Plaintiff is going to publish the information.
      If DHS wins the appeal, would plaintiff be ordered to unpublish it?

      In

    • The court is set up already for that thinking so what or how does this court do something different.

      What they mean is that the court stayed their decision (postponed the time at which it would come into force) to give the DHS time to appeal.

      When I read that I get the feeling that the "Court" felt ugly for their ruling and really really hopes that aggrieved party will appeal.

      No, it's pretty standard in cases where a) the court thinks the party who lost might appeal, b) there is at least an outside chance such an appeal might succeed and c) if they didn't stay their decision the appeal would become moot since in the mean time the losing party would have to (in this case) hand over the information and there would be no point in appealing. It

  • by RandomUsername99 (574692) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @12:46PM (#45423492)

    Not ever really having considered this scenario before, I may be missing some pitfalls that are obvious to other people, but it seems like a consumer-level mesh network might be a good solution to a scenario where they are actually able to develop an internet kill switch, especially in cities, where the space between nodes would (hopefully) be small. I know, at least at the beginning, the OLPC project was using something. Would that be viable? What other technologies are worth pursuing in this vein, that are available right now?

    • by g0bshiTe (596213)
      How does your proposed solution account for phone calls to ISP's ordering them to shut down.
      • Note that I asked a question regarding a class of solutions, and did not propose a solution.
        Mesh networks are peer-to-peer wireless networks that don't have ISPs, or any other centralized network. They are only good for communication within the network, and anywhere where there might be a gateway to, theoretically.

  • Can someone explain to me the benefit of an internet kill switch? And how DHS is the appropriate department for its implementation?
    • by gstoddart (321705)

      Can someone explain to me the benefit of an internet kill switch? And how DHS is the appropriate department for its implementation?

      They could tell you, but they'd have to kill you.

      I'm sure the official explanation would be that in the event of a widespread terrorist event (or some unspecified threat), they would need to shut down the internet to maintain public order.

      Me, I'm sure it's mostly so they can maintain absolute control over everything just in case. It's all part of the plan to actually make 1984

      • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @12:53PM (#45423570)

        Real reason: So they can shut down the internet in the vicinity of major protests, and thus keep people from tweeting and streaming video when the police start firing tear gas into the crowd and breaking a few bones.

        • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @12:58PM (#45423624) Homepage Journal

          Real reason: So they can shut down the internet in the vicinity of major protests, and thus keep people from tweeting and streaming video when the police start firing chemical weapons into the crowd and breaking a few bones.

          FTFY.

          Getting tired of society trying to wrap a nice, pretty bow on that particularly ugly duck.

          • Fortunately CS gas, among other chemical weapons, was banned from use in war. There's plenty left for civilian pacification!

            http://www.opcw.org/chemical-weapons-convention/articles/article-ii-definitions-and-criteria/ [opcw.org]

            It's great! Spray this stuff on an enemy army and you end up in the Hague. Lob it at your citizens and everything is just fine.

            • by gstoddart (321705)

              It's great! Spray this stuff on an enemy army and you end up in the Hague. Lob it at your citizens and everything is just fine.

              Except, the US is explicitly NOT a signatory to anything which would make them subject to the International Criminal Court [wikipedia.org].

              In other words, short of military action against the US to bring someone to justice ... nothing can happen. The US has specifically set themselves up to not be under the jurisdiction of anything like this.

              So, if they decide to actually do gas their people, ster

          • by cffrost (885375)

            "He has gassed his own people." —Bush II, on Saddam Hussein

            "He has gassed his own people." —Myself, on Obama, Bush II, Clinton, and others, for which I cannot remember specific incidences.

            I've been considering this hypocrisy ever since al-Qaeda spilled — and/or Syrian government forces dispersed — sarin in Damascus.

            Thank you, CanHasDIY — it's reassuring to know that others recognize that US government forces routinely "[gas their] own people," too, when it disagrees with an e

        • Mobile phone save video, they can simply save it and transmit later. They would have to conficate *all* phone on a massive scale. Not something which would be easy to do, considering how easy it would be to hide one somewhere in the street, and considering how this would be told 100* time over tweeter and facebook as soon as internet come back. And it would have to, or do irreparable damage.
        • Egypt tried this, and it only made things worse for the government because people left their computers and actually went outside to join the protest instead of watching it on the Net.

    • Re:DHS Kill Switch? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by g0bshiTe (596213) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @01:03PM (#45423670)
      "Can someone explain to me the benefit of an internet kill switch?"

      Media blackout. A populace ignorant of goings on is easier to control.

      "And how DHS is the appropriate department for its implementation?"

      Fact is there should be zero reason for an internet kill switch in the first place. There should be zero critical systems internet facing, which makes the argument to protect against terrorist attack to our infrastructure and critical systems moot. Which leads me to believe the only reason for one is to control the population, or rather control the data the population has access to, read media black out.

      DHS nor any department should have need for it's implementation, nor should any department control it should one actually exist.

      This right here is the best reason I can come up with to remove US control over any portion of the net, this includes hosting and services located in the US.

      And yes I am an ashamed American, ashamed of what my country has become.

      DHS SUCK IT BITCHES!
      • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Thursday November 14, 2013 @01:16PM (#45423802) Homepage Journal

        Media blackout. A populace ignorant of goings on is easier to control.

        Alternate media black-out. I can guarantee you CNN will be on the air saying what they're told[paid] to say.

        And yes I am an ashamed American, ashamed of what my country has become.

        You should be a proud American, but realize that the US Government has become an enemy of the idea the is America. There's a reason why the Founders spoke of "Enemies Foreign and Domestic".

        • by Burz (138833)

          Media blackout. A populace ignorant of goings on is easier to control.

          Alternate media black-out. I can guarantee you CNN will be on the air saying what they're told[paid] to say.

          And yes I am an ashamed American, ashamed of what my country has become.

          You should be a proud American, but realize that the US Government has become an enemy of the idea the is America. There's a reason why the Founders spoke of "Enemies Foreign and Domestic".

          Funny thing: '...and domestic' is the same emphasis the DHS boosters use, too. Bit of a philosophical quandary there.

          Creating a police state involves building up walls of privilege, and its these privileged enemies we have to pay close attention to.

          Now, owing to the fact that terrorists may be using electricity for their misdeeds, I fully expect someone on-high will call for a centrally-controlled electrical grid kill switch.

    • by MRe_nl (306212)

      The agency argues that SOP 303's disclosure could reasonably be expected to endanger the physical safety of individuals near unexploded bombs. Mot. at 13. DHS's thinking goes like this: 1) SOP 303 "describes a procedure for shutting down wireless networks to prevent bombings": 2) releasing information regarding this protocol would enable "bad actors" to blunt its usefulness": and 3) this "could reasonably be expected to endanger the physical safety of those near a bomb by increasing the chances that the pro

    • It's narrow mindedness in a government institutions, a common malady.

      The DHS sees a need to stop some activity or other, and this makes perfect sense in context. One only has to look at the Syria and Egypt for examples of how this is used in practice - if the US ever descends into armed revolt, the switch will disrupt revolutionary communications and make it easier for the government to regain control. The military has its own, separate channels of communication.

      Like all government institutions, it's narrow

  • by Cro Magnon (467622)

    There is no kill switch! It's a !@#$ NO CARRIER

    • by ewieling (90662)
      It seems to me an easy way to kill the kill switch is for some patriot at the DHS (I'm sure there are a few) to flip the "internet kill switch" to the "on" position in the middle of a weekday. I suspect it would be dismantled shortly after that.
  • Seems like a strange ruling to me. How is something intended to prevent bombs going off not to do with saving lives? I'm all for interpreting things like this narrowly, but the fact that you don't know in advance which lives you are saving doesn't seem like a sensible argument to me...

    • Seems like a strange ruling to me. How is something intended to prevent bombs going off not to do with saving lives? I'm all for interpreting things like this narrowly, but the fact that you don't know in advance which lives you are saving doesn't seem like a sensible argument to me...

      I haven't read the ruling yet, but just based on what you've got there, things like that could go either way. There's a very non-zero chance that if you take down the whole Internet, something will fail that's never been test

      • by Tango42 (662363)

        Since the details of the switch haven't been published, I have no view on its merits. It sounds more like a wi-fi jammer than something that will actually kill the internet.

        This court case is not about the merits of the system but about whether the details should be published. The exceptions for things related to security where lives could be at risk by publishing seem to clearly apply.

  • What we really need is a kill switch on the DHS, and the other out-of-control TLAs
    • Agreed. I just hope no one counters with the suggestion that the rigged-as-a-three-masted-schooner electoral system qualifies.

  • It forces you to sign up with Comcast and waits for their lawyers to attack you!

  • by arcite (661011) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @12:52PM (#45423566)
    The Internet Kill switch is located on the twentieth sub-floor of the White House, in a small room right beside the cot Dick Cheney hid under in 2001 for three weeks. The switch is enclosed in a nondescript beige controller box with a large round red button that blinks with the pulse of the internet. A sign above reads, only switch off in case of emergency, or alien invasion.
    • At last check, you can kill 50% of the internet by turning off Youtube and Netflix.
      Your fancy kill switch is just a phone with two CEO numbers.

    • I thought it was in an unlit basement without stairs, in a disused lavatory, in a locked filing cabinet that says "Beware of Leopard."

      No, wait... That's where the Constitution is. Never mind.

    • I was under the impression it was a Linksys router with a sign on it that said "do not unplug".
    • The Internet Kill switch is located on the twentieth sub-floor of the White House, in a small room right beside the cot Dick Cheney hid under in 2001 for three weeks. The switch is enclosed in a nondescript beige controller box with a large round red button that blinks with the pulse of the internet. A sign above reads, only switch off in case of emergency, or alien invasion.

      Then where is the button they use to shut down the internet for the monthly maintenance?

    • by clovis (4684) *

      I'm pretty sure Dick Cheny's cot is under an old volcano - the one where he keeps that white cat he likes to pet.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 14, 2013 @01:11PM (#45423752)

    The fact that this is being discussed shows that the real problem is that an agency as secretive and powerful as the DHS even exists. Remember: J. Stalin was a minor figure in the Russian revolution, but once he gained control of the consolidated bureaucracy of the early USSR, he used that bureaucracy to exile, murder, imprison or otherwise neutralize his political opposition and made himself dictator for life. It is almost impossible for a single individual to defend himself from a large bureaucracy.

    Until recently, the best defense that a US citizen had against attack from govt bureaucracy was the competitive turf guarding behavior of the different agencies which limited the power of any single agency. The consolidation of bureaucratic power under the single authority of the DHS has eroded that defense. An additional danger is the, thanks to Snowden, now widely publicized adoption of big database and analytics techniques by the US govt. Mark my words, if the DHS is not disbanded, then eventually the head of the DHS will become the most powerful person in the country, able to determine who gets elected to every office or even cancel elections and with a virtually unlimited ability to coerce any US citizen to do anything.

  • by ElitistWhiner (79961) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @01:11PM (#45423756) Journal

    At that instant, US citizen's protected rights are constitutionally violated by a deliberate government action.

    Turning off the Internet kills your microphone, news print and mail in one swift blow. That silences voice.

    • At that instant, US citizen's protected rights are constitutionally violated again by a deliberate government action.

      FTFY.
  • The lawsuit is to try and release "Standard Operating Procedure 303".

    Which would make the entire 'net 404. . . .

  • the government starts telling me i have to disclose my internet turbo switch?
  • Everybody has been complaining about the high cost of American government without really talking about what you get with it.
    Makes it seem as if we should cut the price of government since we don't need it.
    But what actually happens when the govt shuts down? Business loses money.
    If business is running the government, or rich people are running the government, then it will cost them money if they shut down the internet.
    Economics is a pain in the butt. You actually _can_ dominate everyone else in your area
  • by DigiShaman (671371) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @02:34PM (#45424460) Homepage

    They will appeal the ruling because it's so patently obvious it involves the root DNS servers. Otherwise, the UN really will have something to to on with regards of taking away control from the US. Which BTW, sounds like a good idea until you realize what the alternatives would be. From bad to worse no doubt.

    Oh well, it was an interesting experiment while it lasted. The single interconnected world wide web that is. A real shame it is!

  • Thanks Oba
  • by Kazoo the Clown (644526) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @03:00PM (#45424726)
    I can see it now. "We're going to have to install interrupting devices at key points on the internet.". And OBTW, when they're not interrupting the flow of data they're sending copies of it all to NSA Utah. And we're all paying for it. What a crock.
  • The switch ought to be tested periodically to make sure it is in full working order modeled after monthly testing of the emergency broadcast system here in the states.

    Given cataclysmic apocalypse sure to ensue if kill switch were needed then failed to work properly we should demand it be well tested.

  • No, no, I think people are getting this all wrong. The DHS internet "kill switch" doesn't kill the internet, it kills the users! Either selectively, or in one big all-inclusive purge! And that's why they don't want anyone finding out about the details. I mean it's obvious, when you think about it... But don't worry, they're so incompetent they'll probably just blow themselves up if they ever try to actually use the technology. Come to think of it, that should be the new DHS motto: "Safety Through Incompeten

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