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The Internet "Kill Switch" is Nonsense

ARE THEY KIDDING ME? DON'T THEY HAVE ANY REMOTELY INTELLIGENT ADVISORS IN THE WHITE HOUSE THESE DAYS? I THOUGHT PRESIDENT OBAMA WAS TECH SAVVY!

Okay, I got that off my chest. [see later post]

For those who came late to the party, here's how to think of the "Internet Kill Switch." Substitute "Internet" for any of these:

  • National highway system
  • National airspace
  • Nationwide broadcast system
  • Starbucks
You can't have an "Internet Kill Switch" for the same reason you can't have a "Starbucks Kill Switch." The things being controlled are thoroughly distributed and they operate independently.

Yes, the President can always declare a "Starbucks Emergency" and demand shutdown of all Starbucks (and Caribou and Dunn Brothers and other caffiene chains, to be fair). But there's no real control over such things. Someone won't get the word, or they'll ignore it.

Does anyone around here remember what happened on 9/11/2001?

Yes, aircraft crashed into buildings. What else?

If you were attempting to travel that week, no doubt you remember being stuck. The President pushed the "National Airspace Kill Switch" and all planes instantly stopped flying.

Well, to be honest, it took several hours. Planes in the air had to land, after all. Moreover, a few "special cases" no doubt slipped through.

And the same is true about the "Internet Kill Switch," except that it's even harder to control. Not every organization has a "Network Operations Center." Not every organization directly controls their routers. Many use the "Install and Forget" option in which they set everything on "default" or "automatic," install them, and just let them operate. They can only shut things down by unplugging everything. Is that what this "Internet Kill Switch" is supposed to do?

I heard Declan McCullagh, one of the handful of savvy tech reporters out there, try to reinterpret the announcement into something technically meaningful, but he was clearly trying to build bricks with straw.

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