As was witnessed Thursday in Egypt, the embattled government acted to shut down the Internet as demonstrations fueled by social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter threatened to overwhelm the ruling party.
While pulling the plug on the World Wide Web might seem like a measure relegated to the governments of Iran, Egypt and China, it turns out that just such a proposal is being considered in the United States Congress. Championed by Sen. Joe Lieberman, the bill would give President Barack Obama (and those who succeed him) control to snuff out the Internet in one fell swoop during a so-called "cyber-emergency," AOL News reported in July.
Since then, Lieberman almost single-handedly succeeded in persuading Amazon to stop providing WikiLeaks with hosting services. Though Lieberman says that the Internet kill switch idea is about protecting the country in case of a cyber-attack, critics counter that such a move would violate American core values.
Meanwhile, in the Wall Street Journal today, Jim Cowie, a chief technology officer at Renesys Corp., a company that provides global analysis of how the Internet is performing, took a stab at explaining how the idea of a temporary Internet shutdown actually works:
"People have talked about a 'kill switch' that would link to every router and be able to shut each one off from a central location, 'but that is not realistic,' he said. 'What is most likely is that somebody in the government gives a phone call to a small number of people and says, "Turn it off." And then one engineer at each service provider logs into the equipment and changes the configuration of how traffic should flow.'"
More coverage from Surge Desk:
Will Egypt Facebook Flashmob Protests Yield Tunisian Results?
Al-Jazeera's Egypt Coverage Earns High Praise on Twitter
Ron Paul Defends WikiLeaks on Twitter
Did Amazon Just Pull the Plug on WikiLeaks' Website?
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