Weekend Gedankenexperiment - The Kill Switch

JC Dill jcdill.lists at gmail.com
Fri Feb 4 01:38:59 CST 2011

  On 03/02/11 10:38 PM, Paul Ferguson wrote:
> And as an aside, governments will always believe that that they can control
> the flow of information, when push comes to shove.
> This has always been a hazard, and will always continue to be so.
> As technologists, we need to be cognizant of that fact.

In the US, by accident (surely not by design) we are lucky that our 
network of networks does not have the convenient 4 chokepoints that the 
Egyptian network had, making it easy for the government to shut off the 
entier internet by putting pressure on just 4 companies.

Where we *really* need to be fighting this battle is in the laws and 
policies that are producing a duopoly in much of the US where consumers 
have 2 choices, the ILEC for DSL or their local cableco for Cable 
Internet.  As theses companies push smaller competing ISPs out of 
business, and as they consolidate (e.g. Cablecos buying each other up, 
resulting in fewer and fewer cablecos over time), we head down the 
direction of Egypt, where pressure on just a few companies CAN shut down 
the entire internet.  Otherwise we end up with a few companies that will 
play Visa and PayPal and roll over and play dead when a government 
official says "Wikileaks is bad" - and equally easily will shut down 
their entire networks for "national security".

If you *really* believe that the TSA is effective, you would be in favor 
of an Internet Kill Switch.  If you understand that this is really 
security theater, and despite all the inconvenience we aren't really any 
safer, then you should equally be very concerned that someone ever has 
the power to order that the internet be "shut down" for our safety.


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