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The Internet Encryption Government Social Networks United States

US Rep. Joe Barton Has a Plan To Stop Terrorists: Shut Down Websites (arstechnica.com) 275

Earthquake Retrofit writes: In an FCC oversight hearing, U.S. Representative Joe Barton (R-TX) asked Chairman Tom Wheeler if it's possible to shut down websites used by ISIS and other terrorist groups. He said, "Isn't there something we can do under existing law to shut those Internet sites down, and I know they pop up like weeds, but once they do pop up, shut them down and then turn those Internet addresses over to the appropriate law enforcement agencies to try to track them down? I would think that even in an open society, when there is a clear threat, they've declared war against us, our way of life, they've threatened to attack this very city our capital is in, that we could do something about the Internet and social media side of the equation." Wheeler pointed out that the legal definition of "lawful intercept" did not support such actions, but added that Congress could expand the law to validate the concept. Meanwhile, the Senate Intelligence Committee is exploring the idea of using the recent terror attacks in France as ammunition to force tech companies away from end-to-end encryption. "Lawmakers said it was time to intensify discussions over what technology companies such as Apple and Google could do to help unscramble key information on devices such as iPhones and apps like WhatsApp, where suspected terrorists have communicated."
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US Rep. Joe Barton Has a Plan To Stop Terrorists: Shut Down Websites

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  • What city? (Score:5, Funny)

    by fey000 ( 1374173 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2015 @10:53AM (#50954759)

    Yes! Shutdown Facebook! Shut down Twitter! Shutdown those damn emojis and skateboards too! And don't forget the damn rap music!

    I will vote for that!

    • So they asked the dog, "What should we do during a food crisis?" and he replied, "Save all the bacon bits!"
    • Why not just put all the terrorist sites on the same Series of Tubes, then stick a giant cork in there whenever they start contradicting our carefully constructed narrative?

  • Joe Barton? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ultra64 ( 318705 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2015 @10:54AM (#50954761)

    Oh yes, I remember. He's the one that thinks that wind turbines will use up the wind and cause Earth to warm up.

    https://www.facebook.com/reale... [facebook.com]

    • Re:Joe Barton? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2015 @11:07AM (#50954851)

      Oh yes, I remember. He's the one that thinks that wind turbines will use up the wind and cause Earth to warm up.

      https://www.facebook.com/reale... [facebook.com]

      They will extract energy from the wind, that much is true. There has to be some local measureable effect of a tiny bit less wind, because the energy changed form. It's pretty laughable though, to think that towers with their tippy tops around 600 feet in the air will use up all the wind on earth. It's a big tall atmosphere. And warming? Where do these people get their science? They'll deny that there is such a thing as the greenhouse effect, but believe crap like that.

      • You would need ridiculous numbers of turbines just to slow down the breeze in a general area a little bit, so that area might be a little warmer locally because cooler air isn't pushing through, or warmer air, or something.

        But net effect on Earth remains the same. All the electricity the turbine generates, which gets converted to heat in the atmosphere eventually, save a touch from light bulbs into space, is just returning it there.

        • Re:Joe Barton? (Score:5, Informative)

          by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2015 @11:25AM (#50955001)

          You would need ridiculous numbers of turbines just to slow down the breeze in a general area a little bit, so that area might be a little warmer locally because cooler air isn't pushing through, or warmer air, or something.

          Do you mean like this? NASA Satellite Measurements Imply Texas Wind Farm Impact on Surface Temperature [nasa.gov]

          • You would need ridiculous numbers of turbines just to slow down the breeze in a general area a little bit, so that area might be a little warmer locally because cooler air isn't pushing through, or warmer air, or something.

            Do you mean like this? NASA Satellite Measurements Imply Texas Wind Farm Impact on Surface Temperature [nasa.gov]

            Interesting stuff. I hadn't considered pulling warm air from upper air to the surface at night. In the end though that is a redistribution issue. But looks like the energy extraction transfer issue is indeed very small.

            • by OzPeter ( 195038 )

              Interesting stuff. I hadn't considered pulling warm air from upper air to the surface at night. In the end though that is a redistribution issue. But looks like the energy extraction transfer issue is indeed very small.

              redistribution could be a long term effect that causes issues, but I have no expertise in that area. However as a talking point I can easily see people (EG senators) latching onto

              zOMG even the gubmint says that wind farms cause warming!!!!!!

          • A clarification from the SAME authors: No net heating ... a localized atmospheric mixing effect

            scientist-debunks-misleading-coverage [mediamatters.org]

        • by fizzer06 ( 1500649 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2015 @11:27AM (#50955015)
          The wind turbine warming effect is countered by solar panels stealing the sun's energy. Duh!
        • All the electricity the turbine generates, which gets converted to heat in the atmosphere eventually

          Yeah, but what if you used all the electricity the turbines generated to power robotic logging machines that clear cut trees and then burn the trees the just cut down. Then he'd be right, wouldn't he?!?

      • Well it shows the level of critical thinking that's involved with the Congressman. I'm sure he would argue against solar power as that would mean less sunlight for crops. :P
      • Re:Joe Barton? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Wednesday November 18, 2015 @11:33AM (#50955073)

        Where do these people get their science?

        The Bible.

        • Re:Joe Barton? (Score:5, Informative)

          by cdrudge ( 68377 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2015 @12:47PM (#50955687) Homepage

          Where do these people get their science?

          The Bible.

          A friend shared a page from AnswersInGenesis.com [answersingenesis.org] about how carbon dating isn't necessarily accurate. I stopped reading when I got to this passage:

          When a scientist's interpretation of data does not match the clear meaning of the text in the Bible, we should never reinterpret the Bible. God knows just what He meant to say, and His understanding of science is infallible, whereas ours is fallible.

          So yes, you are absolutely right. People do get their science from The Bible. Because it's the absolute word of God. As heard by man. And told to other men. And eventually written down by man as best as they could remember. And translated by man. And reinterpreted by man to fit their various beliefs even if they are self contradictory. But exactly verbatim what God said.

    • Re:Joe Barton? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2015 @11:38AM (#50955117) Journal

      Oh yes, I remember. He's the one that thinks that wind turbines will use up the wind and cause Earth to warm up.

      The fact that he got elected shows that Joe Barton (R-TX) is smarter than most of the voters in his congressional district.

    • Lots of places in WY today wind is 40+ MPH with gusts 60+. We could use a few more turbines...

  • Repeat of history (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thaylin ( 555395 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2015 @10:54AM (#50954765)

    If left up to them we will see patriot act part 2, death to the constitution edition.

    • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
      The US constitution is already dead. All that remains is to pull the plug on life support.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ... technology. You can't shut down the internet, they will find a way to communicate regardless.

  • ...the attacks on our Rights.

    Stop hiring Representatives of our Constitution and the People who clearly don't give a shit about either.

    • by Jawnn ( 445279 )
      Too late. The terrorists have already won because instead of being principled leaders and extending their middle finger at a bunch of ignorant savages, the Republican assholes are selling fear by the truckload, and the sheep are buying it "like it's going out of style".
  • Idiot... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Aaden42 ( 198257 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2015 @11:00AM (#50954809) Homepage

    Could we PLEASE have a basic IQ and literacy test requirement to serve in public office?

    • These are senators and congressmen you are talking about do you think they know how to take a test without cheating?
    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      Could we PLEASE have a basic IQ and literacy test requirement to serve in public office?

      He's smart enough to get voted into office, which probably means he's well above average. Depressed yet?

    • by pr0t0 ( 216378 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2015 @12:19PM (#50955431)

      If the question is, can't we just identify which web sites or social media services terrorists are using and shut them down, regardless of borders? My reply would be, can't you just identify which people are terrorists and kill them regardless of borders?

    • by e r ( 2847683 )
      YOU were supposed to be that test. Did you stay home on election day?
    • I'll give Rep. Barton more credit than a lot of other members of Congress. At least he's asking someone who is supposed to be a subject matter expert if it's possible to do something about a perceived problem. Most other members of Congress would just propose a bill that makes it illegal, regardless of whether or not enforcement is at all possible.
    • In Texas we have the opposite test. Only the most extremely irrational religious persons are allowed to hold public office.
      • Oh how I wish that were a joke. Even my Republican friends are like, "Oh crap, maybe we shouldn't have elected $latest_whackadoo_to_make_the_news$"
  • by Zeorge ( 1954266 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2015 @11:01AM (#50954815)
    That way we can gather intel! If we push them off of the internet and back onto the sneakernet then we will have a much harder time getting information. We'll need to find and infiltrate the cells, gain trust, let some incidents happen as a calculated risk in order to get deeper into the organization, etc.

    At least this way if they post we can determine the time, possible location, IP addresses, we can set up taps to capture PCAPs and further enumerate, the list goes on and on.
  • Here in Europe many people are calling for closed borders as if radicalism only occurs through immigration, while a lot does indeed occur locally with the help of literature that is - what isn't? - spread through internet. Shutting down internet is foolish, as I hope most of Slashdot will agree with me, but it is hardly any more foolish than the cry for isolation through border controls and closures.

    • You're not alone in that regard, I'm sure it's been out there by now that the politicians and people in the US are calling for the exact same thing. We're at a point where terrorists don't need to 'assault our freedoms and way of life', we're just going to do it for them, all they need to do is poke their heads out from time to time, do something small scale with 'splash'. Then we get the calls for 'well let's just let the Christian ones in', or 'nope not even 5 year old orphans', somehow to these people t
    • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
      Screaming for the government to actually uphold and enforce existing immigration laws is not a call for "isolation". Unfortunately governments in Europe have decided to do nothing about the tidal wave of immigrants and some even treat them as if they had special rights despite the fact they enter the country illegally. A country is supposed to be able to decide who it lets in. Refugee or not. It's also supposed to see if the claims are valid and if the person attempting to enter is a criminal wanted in othe
  • by JasterBobaMereel ( 1102861 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2015 @11:02AM (#50954823)

    Shut down a website hosted in another country, run from outside the USA, not affliated with any US company ... ... or one that is use by 3 billion people legitimately, and 2 terrorists ...

    • by OzPeter ( 195038 )

      Shut down a website hosted in another country, run from outside the USA, not affliated with any US company ... ... or one that is use by 3 billion people legitimately, and 2 terrorists ...

      well that's easy .. you just call on the World Police [wikipedia.org]

    • Agreed. "What could possible go wrong with censorship?"

      Let's toss the baby out with the bath water simply because 1 person, accidentally, or intentionally, access it. Does this mean google.com, microsoft.com, etc. would be shut down? :-)

      Funny, how it is always the US demanding that other countries abide by _their_ morality instead of them to theirs.

  • Let the hackers shut them down. Once you let the GOVERNMENT start shutting them down, they will have their little fingers into sites that are terrorists like, then they will go after sites that say "hateful" things about the government or politically protected groups. Where will it end. 1st amendment, means FREE speech. Sadly you have to take the good with the bad. Who will decide what is "bad"? I don't like all the porn sites, the crap on tv that is overly sexually aggressive, but I just don't bother
  • >> ammunition to force tech companies away from end-to-end encryption

    Um...what major social or web site actually uses "end to end" encryption? Lots of sites use HTTPS to connect a client to a server, but all those communications are decrypted and easily snooped/stored/retransmitted at the server.

    (Where "end to end" encryption means "only the sender and recipient can see the plaintext message" - examples include PGP-encrypted messages, SMIME-encrypted emails, "strong zip" encrypted files and the like.

    • by tepples ( 727027 )

      It's probably something like Off-the-Record Messaging [wikipedia.org] (OTR).

    • WhatsApp, iMessage, etc.

      Law enforcement agencies don't have back-end access at the servers, anyway. That's why they're complaining. They used to be able to intercept in transit since they couldn't siphon off either end or the server. Now they can't.

  • by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2015 @11:17AM (#50954951) Homepage

    Half of his appeal comes from the principle that the open society is not a suicide pact. That means "our Bill of Rights is more important than your feelings." If that means we have to tell people from countries with known terrorism problems that they are categorically not welcome, then so be it. Their feelings are simply nothing when juxtaposed with defending the 4th amendment. I'd rather see 1M Syrians forced to stare down ISIS than see the status quo continue and help ensure a steady supply of potential excuses for abridging our rights.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 18, 2015 @11:21AM (#50954965)

    Forget going after their internet communication. Go after their money. Bomb their trucks, bomb their oil wells. Block all money flowing from Saudi Arabia to ISIS. We can't do anything about random terrorists in Paris but we can do something about the huge area of land that ISIS is occupying. Many people in that region are joining ISIS just so they can get better food, cheaper electricity, and luxuries like Redbull. Seriously, why do they have access to American luxuries like Redbull. If we can do a trade embargo on Iran, surely we can do something about ISIS getting Redbull. Sure, Redbull isn't that important but if they are getting imports of that then you can be pretty sure that they are getting imports of a ton of other things. Cut off their money. I might even be in favor of taking out their electricity. Definitely bomb any oil rigs, gas tankers, etc.. under their control. If we have to airlift food in to feed the civilians, fine, but make sure that the terrorists there are not living more comfortable than the civilians. If you really want to go after their communications then don't worry about their communication over here but instead block their communication over there. Block their communication to the outside world, airdrop jammers so that the whole area is on radio silence. It's hard to deal with Terrorists living among us. It's really easy to deal with them when they occupy specific territory. Send their territory back to the stone ages. If they don't have electricity then we don't have to worry about whether or not they are using facebook. If they dislike modern culture then oblige them and send them back to the 1300s where their views belong.

    • >> surely we can do something about ISIS getting Redbull

      Why stem the flow of Redbull? That crap will kill them too.

    • by jabuzz ( 182671 )

      And there was me thinking that Red Bull was an Austrian company.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    • Forget going after their internet communication. Go after their money. Bomb their trucks, bomb their oil wells. Block all money flowing from Saudi Arabia to ISIS. We can't do anything about random terrorists in Paris but we can do something about the huge area of land that ISIS is occupying. Many people in that region are joining ISIS just so they can get better food, cheaper electricity, and luxuries like Redbull.

      And what happens after ISIS when all the oil wells are gone and the area is economically devastated and unemployed? Part of the reason ISIS took hold is the Iraq war, and economic devastation was a part of that.

      Really I think it should be easier than that to cut off their money flow. Oil isn't diamonds, it's very cheap so you have to move a lot to make money.

      A big oil trunk is ~10,000 gallons and there's 42 gallons in a barrel, at $40 a barrel that means a big truck can only carry about $10,000 in oil, that

  • by Beardo the Bearded ( 321478 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2015 @11:25AM (#50955003)

    Well, I know that shutting down Pirate Bay has been the easiest, simplest thing that world governments have managed to do, over and over again.

  • by Chas ( 5144 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2015 @11:25AM (#50955005) Homepage Journal

    I'm just so inexpressibly sick of the stupid Reductio ad Hitlerums (technically Reductio ad Terroristiums.)

    Because *Insert Offending Group* uses *Insert Technology/Product/Thing*, it's bad and we need to get rid of it because it's bad and we don't like bad stuff.

    That's essentially what both Barton's statements, and the whole "we should ban encryption that we can't break easily" arguments are.

    Never mind that there are HUGE legal obstacles (and some nasty consequences) to such government overreach.

    Never mind that end to end encryption makes users safer, even if the government IS lumped in with all the other bad guys.

    It's incumbent on all of us to stand up to these assholes and say "no".
    And, every time they bring this idiocy up again, stand up and say "no" again.

    The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.
    Even (and especially) with regard to the lot unhanged knaves in our own government.

  • It's not only tough to find the least intelligent member of Congress, but tough to find the dumbest one from Texas. Louie Gohmert gives Joe Barton a lot of competition for that honor. Gohmert opposed changes to marriage laws by saying "when you say it’s not a man and a woman anymore, then why not have three men and one woman, or four women and one man, or why not somebody has a love for an animal?"
  • Because censoring these types of people *always* leads to better understanding and peace. Said no one ever. Anywhere.
  • They've declared war against us, our way of life, they've threatened to attack this very city our capital is in, that we could do something about the Internet and social media side of the equation." Wheeler pointed out that the legal definition of "lawful intercept" did not support such actions, but added that Congress could expand the law to validate the concept.

    So in response to their declaration of war on "our way of life" his response is to give that up and create exactly the society they want where people don't have strong rights to privacy, security in their property, and freedom to speak.

    What an ass.

  • ... then where else do you get your intelligence from?

    I bet the US government has infiltrated a lot of these sites and gets far more intelligence from them staying up than from taking them down.

  • Let ISIS on TV to deliver their message directly to the public rather than the way they currently express themselves.

  • Clearly Barton's idea has numerous, show-stopping problems but I feel like playing contrarian.

    Even in the US, the 1st amendment isn't totally immutable. There are concepts like "fighting words" and the notion that you can't shout "fire" in a crowded theater. And I don't doubt that the court would go along with some limitations on 1st amendment rights during wartime.

    Could Barton have some kind of argument based on these limitations? Could you possibly even frame the argument that taking down terrorist web

    • Even in the US, the 1st amendment isn't totally immutable. There are concepts like "fighting words" and the notion that you can't shout "fire" in a crowded theater. And I don't doubt that the court would go along with some limitations on 1st amendment rights during wartime.

      Two out of three of those are simply flawed. Yes, courts have upheld "fighting words" laws and wartime restrictions, but that doesn't meant they aren't in conflict with the 1st Amendment.

      As for shouting "fire" in a crowded theater, if someone acts on your false claim of fire in good faith, and someone comes to harm because of it, naturally you'd be liable for that harm. That's more akin to fraud than a restriction on speech. You either set out to cause harm using other people as mere tools, or showed neglig

  • President America, shut down everything!

  • When guns are outlawed, then only outlaws will have guns

    You've all heard this countless times before, but the sentiment couldn't be any more true in this case.

    When encryption is outlawed, only outlaws will use encryption

    Outlawing end-to-end encryption will create more problems than you think it'll solve, and it won't solve the problem you intend it to solve! Please, politicians, would you go get some sort of rudimentary technical education, or at least get some technical advisors, or technical advisors that aren't incompetent? Thanks.

  • I'm sorry, but if ISIL is a big enough threat to curtail our personal privacy and erode away Constitutional rights, then why the hell are we pussyfooting around just bombing them? If they are that big of a threat to us and our way of life then we should be fighting them with everything we have. This isn't like Iraq, or even like Afghanistan. ISIL is a demonstrable threat to states not just in the region but around the world: if they aren't a perfect case for multilateral action I don't know what is. Ira
  • Seems to me that no amount of legislation about encryption, or shutting down or wire-tapping in-game chat on consoles or anything of that nature is going to help. It really doesn't take much tech savvy to write your own point-to-point or client/server communications system that can be encrypted out the wazoo and passed through any number of security-through-obscurity layers. Making the easy ways to do it illegal simply forces the bad guys into 'doing it properly' and then you'll still be unable to track o

    • Except that it is hard to implement encryption properly.

      We see time-and-again, software which utilizes encryption improperly being exploited.

      The re-use of "random" numbers or the use of weak random numbers or the use of obscurity for entropy or encryption without authentication or encryption before authentication.

      The point is, there are tons of ways to use encryption wrong at which point, you may as well not even be using it.

      It is true that it doesn't take much skill to write an app that utilizes encryption

  • ...is #473 in the Encyclopedia of American Loons.
    (I'm too lazy to give you a link--just use Google.)

  • When you have people openly (or at least semi-openly) plotting against you, what you want them to do is keep talking where you can see and hear it.

    You do not want them to shut up and go covert because that makes your job much harder.

    The Brits outlined how to do all of this with "Ultra" -they didn't go out and TELL the Nazis the Enigma machine had been compromised. No. They let them keep talking and planning and in the end even sacrificed some lives to ensure the Nazis had no idea they were being monitored

  • by dablow ( 3670865 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2015 @01:29PM (#50956001)

    The west has become nothing more than a collection of cowards and morons......

    Hey our way of life is under threat, we need to defend it by........changing our way of life!

    Umm do none of these politicians notice how stupid that is?

    First of all, no matter what measures you put in place, short of getting a few of pre-cogs or embedding a chip in everybody's brain that monitors and reports back all thoughts or locking up all humans, THERE IS NO WAY TO ELIMINATE TERRORISM. Ever.

    Second, if we want to have a free an open society, this is just the cost of of having such a society, We will forever be vulnerable to such attacks. Yes horrendous and tragic, however hardly a threat to a society as a whole.

    Funny thing is, we as a society, accept the fact that in order to have cars, there will always be deaths caused by car accidents. However, we can ACTUALLY eliminate all car related deaths OVERNIGHT, by banning cars, Yet nobody in their right mind would suggest such a thing because, for some reason, people as a hole realize that the benefits of having cars far far far outweighs the cost to society (the tragic thousands that are killed every year in car accidents). Why this logic is not carried over when terrorism is involved is beyond me (although the constant bombardment from propaganda I mean mainstream media telling us to be terrified might have something to do with it).

    And my final point for the day, didn't terrorism exist LOOOONG before the invention of computers and SLL encryption? It didn't seem to stop them or slow them down back then, why would it today? Also how will you force terrorists to NOT USE encryption? You can't simply un-invent it, or put the genie back in the bottle. All this would accomplish is remove the few protections we have from an over-reaching tyrannical government, while terrorist will happily keep using their rooted/jailbroken android/ios devices to send encrypted communications to each other.

  • We can't just ask service providers not to use encryption, because people might just use their own encryption prior to using those services. What we need to do is stop all encryption by getting everyone to forget about math.
  • The Senate Intelligence Committee.

  • Making us change what we do (use a certain website) because of a terrorist? Isn't that exactly their end game? To change our behavior?
    • by dablow ( 3670865 )

      That is correct.

      Guess what? The terrorists won in '01.

      All it took was 20 people and 20 box cutters. VS TRILLIONS AND TRILLIONS in advanced weaponry.....

  • Democrats lost a lot of representative seats in large part because "excess" gov't domestic snooping was big in the news at the time of elections. Now the administration is "not doing enough".

    I looks like the country is now doing a flip-flop, just like I predicted, upon a big terror event.

    • Obama and other Democrats got elected in large part on the promise of restoring privacy and constitutionality and limiting government overreach. People got disgusted with them when they not only failed to deliver but ended up worse than the people they replaced.

  • Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech. That's true whether I choose to encrypt my communications or not. I care not a whit if politicians don't like it, there's nothing they can do about it without violating my First Amendment rights.

    Some of us still take the Constitution seriously.

  • Great idea! Let's start by shutting down:

    joebarton.house.gov

    twitter.com/RepJoeBarton

    I think the guy is spreading fear and terror!

    (That was sarcasm, in case you are confused.)

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