With US politicians dithering over the prospect of potential cyber-attacks from China and elsewhere (but mostly China), independent Senator Joseph Lieberman has proposed a solution: a bill that would grant the US President unlimited power to shut down part or all of the Internet in the case of a cyberattack.
The “Internet kill switch” at the core of the so-called Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act (PCNAA) isn’t a new idea – the same idea was pitched over a year ago in another bill, the Cybersecurity Act of 2009, co-sponsored by Sen. John Rockefeller (D-WV) and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME).
It’s no less silly and useless now.
Forget the paranoid nonsense about the Internet kill switch giving Obama the ability to shut down news sites and bloggers – an Internet kill switch is technologically implausible to begin with.
Even if you could devise a kill switch mechanism of some kind, it’s not likely to thwart a hacker attack, especially one designed with a kill switch in mind. And if the attack is that unsophisticated, odds are it could be prevented, or at least minimized, by keeping security patches up to date.
(On a side note, the Australian government is actually considering a proposal that would require users to keep their anti-virus and firewall software updated or lose their Internet privileges. It would also require ISPs to ensure their users conform to the rules. Good luck with that, Australia.)