OBAMA issues Executive Order that gives him control of the internet
- By Sebastian Anthony
REFUSE TO COMPLY..... OR SOON WE ARE DONE AS A REPUBLIC.
Without even the faintest toot of a fanfare, President Barack Obama has issued an Executive Order that outlines an extreme level of communications preparedness in case of crisis or emergency, including the ability to take over any communication network, including the internet.
- By Sebastian Anthony on July 10, 2012 at
To this end, the Order instructs the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (DOSTP) to issue an annual report detailing any changes that should be made to the national security and emergency preparedness (NS/EP) communications programs, capabilities, and policies. The DOSTP must also ensure that he has up-to-date information about the readiness of NS/EP systems, and advise the President on other matters, such as radio spectrum prioritization. The Order also outlines responsibilities for the Secretary of Defense, and other officials.
When we get to Section 5.2, however, there’s this interesting tidbit: “The Secretary of Homeland Security shall: … satisfy priority communications requirements through the use of commercial, Government, and privately owned communications resources, when appropriate.” In short, while it’s stressed that the government must have its own secure networks in place, the Executive Office reserves the right to do whatever it likes with commercial and private networks, in times of emergency or crisis. I’m not an expert on US law, or Executive Orders, so I will go easy on the possible interpretations or implications of Section 5.2 — but I would guess that this will mostly come down to how easily the President and his Executive Office can declare a state of emergency or crisis. If there’s a possible terrorist threat, is that grounds for locking down the US cellular carriers? If Iran attacks the US with a Stuxnet-like virus, is that grounds for the disabling of core internet routers?
It’s also worth noting that the US President has, since the Communications Act of 1934, the power to “suspend or amend… the rules and regulations applicable to any or all stations or devices capable of emitting electromagnetic radiations within the jurisdiction of the United States” — i.e. Obama already has an internet kill switch (as did Bush and every other president since Hoover). The last few years have seen some proposed bills that would give the US government more control over the internet, ostensibly in the name of improved cybersecurity, but so far none of these bills have passed into law.
While Congress’s attempt to introduce improved cybersecurity measures has generally been received by the press as an attempt to curtail our internet liberties, the fact remains that cybersecurity will become an actual threat to our glorious country at some point. Cyberwarfare is undeniably in our midst; when so much can be achieved without political posturing or scrambling jets, countries would be crazy to not launch cyber attacks. It will be interesting to see how the President and Congress eventually deal with these threats, without stepping on the ACLU’s toes. As always, it will probably take a massive disaster or attack to pass a bill.
Another interesting point, I think, is the implementation. In the case of Section 5.2, the President assumes that the Secretary of Homeland Security can basically just… take over a private or commercial network. How does she do this? Can she demand that Verizon installs a core router in the White House bunker? Can she jump in a limo, head over to Verizon HQ, and announce to everyone that she’s now in charge?
In the case of a kill switch, it would require some 8,000 US ISPs (yes, there are that many) to comply with the President, or to attach their core infrastructure to a remotely-accessible power switch. The other option, of course, would be for the ISPs to install a physical switch at the White House, where, in case of emergency or crisis, the President could shut down the internet by gleefully mashing dozens of buttons at a time with his big hands. Thinking about it, he would probably get a special mallet made for the occasion.