As Cumbria web designers, you would think that the Internet Kill Switch would really be of no concern to us. You would be wrong, and would be wise to be just as concerned as we are.
On the 27th January the Egyptian Government cut off Internet and mobile phone access within Egypt effectively sealing off the country from the outside world, and dramatically limiting the general populations channels of communication. What’s the surprise in that you may ask, after all Egypt is not exactly a democratic country?
Here is the kicker; the US, Austria and a number of other countries are looking for the same powers to deny their population’s access to mobile phone and Internet communication. That is why as Cumbria web designers we are concerned, we see this as being the thin end of the wedge, how long will it be before these same countries start to censor the Internet, controlling what we have access to.
According to TechEye Network "Austria is working on creating a big red button which will turn off both the internet and mobile networks. The idea is to keep the country safe should there be some sort of cyberwar within the borders of the EU, keeping Austria safe from nasty viruses and acts of sabotage."
As Cumbria Web Designers see some sense in protecting the countries Internet infrastructure from cyber attack, why also take down the mobile networks if not to stop people communicating. Would it not just be simpler to shut down the data transfer side of the mobile networks.
According to a BBC article today “Should Obama’s ‘Internet kill switch’ power be curbed?’ – an analyst justified the “Kill Switch” by hypothesizing
What if, “computer systems at Washington's natural gas and electric utilities became infected by a powerful internet worm, the president could order them to power down or disconnect from the internet to protect physical infrastructure, stem the infection, and allow them to be cleared.”
Why would the president have to order them to take those actions, do they honestly expect us to believe that the people running Washington’s natural gas and electric utilities are so stupid they would not think to do that themselves.
In another example described to the BBC, it was suggested “the president might order the shutdown of networks hosting Wall Street financial services infrastructure in order to avoid an imminent cyber attack.”
We all know the bankers are greedy, but again they are not stupid. If you were warned of an imminent cyber attack, would you leave your system up and say “bring it on”, as Cumbria web designers we say “Hell No, now where is the off switch”
I suspect the real reason governments are looking to introduce this kind of legislation is control; they have seen the power the Internet hands to the ordinary person in the street, and it scares them. No longer are we isolated in our own communities, no longer are we just influenced by what is happening in our country or region, people are beginning to communicate and interact with each other on a global scale.
They are finding the have more in common than they think, the same things that are frustrating us, as Cumbria web designers are frustrating our counterparts in other countries. Perhaps that is why we have seen the unrest in Tunisia spread so quickly to Egypt and now Jordan.