Can the president switch off the internet? Critics fear new executive order hands Obama too much control over the web

truther July 12, 2012 3

Barack Obama has signed an executive order that could hand control of the internet to the U.S. Government, in the event of a natural disaster or terrorist attack.

The order lays out guidelines government agencies should follow if there’s a serious emergency, so they can maintain levels of communication.

But critics are concerned by a section of the order they claim gives the president and the secretary of homeland security control of ‘the on/off switch to the Web’.

The order, signed by President Obama last week, stated that ‘The Federal Government must have the ability to communicate at all times and under all circumstances to carry out its most critical and time sensitive missions.’

It explained: ‘Survivable, resilient, enduring, and effective communications, both domestic and international, are essential to enable the executive branch to communicate within itself and with: the legislative and judicial branches; State, local, territorial, and tribal governments; private sector entities; and the public, allies, and other nations. Such communications must be possible under all circumstances to ensure national security, effectively manage emergencies, and improve national resilience.’

The government wants priority use of telecoms and the web in the event of a major emergency like 9/11The government wants priority use of telecoms and the web in the event of a major emergency like 9/11

But Section 5.2 has raised alarm among those who fear the government will have too much control over the Web.

The section explained how the secretary of homeland security – currently Janet Napolitano – will ‘satisfy priority communications requirements through the use of commercial, Government, and privately owned communications resources, when appropriate.’

According to The Verge, sceptics fear the clause gives Mr Obama and Ms Napolitano ‘control over the internet’ over and above the needs of the nation in extreme cases, like natural disasters.

Critics are concerned about Section 5.2 which gives Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano the reins to the webCritics are concerned about Section 5.2 which gives the president and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano the reins to the Web

White House officials have acted quickly to ease concern, insisting the order is just an update of an existing authority dating back to 1984 . The claim the government has been granted no extra powers.

A spokesman told CNBC in an email: ‘The Internet is an international network of networks; no one person, organization or country can control or shut down the Internet.

‘The United States relies on the Internet to perform essential functions including to operate critical infrastructure and to maintain essential national security capabilities. That is why the President has designated our digital infrastructure as a strategic national asset.

‘This Order is about communications resilience — the Administration’s goal is to maintain this connected environment during the worst disasters, even in circumstances when our adversaries may wish to deprive us of their use.’


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  1. Sue Clarke August 1, 2012 at 7:11 pm - Reply

    He rules the US right? Not the rest of the world,, so leave our internet alone on this side of the pond you damn satanic leech.

  2. Stan Sikorski July 13, 2012 at 4:42 am - Reply

    By all rights, none of these jackholes has any right to “take down” the Internet. The American people paid for its development, pay for its continued operation and upkeep, and pay these jagoffs to do what we tell them. Now there seems to be a problem with that last one. So either the people have to agree not to pay them anymore, or remove them entirely from their duties.

    Come on Americans!! Stop acting the lazy turds. Get tough on the government before they get tough on you.

  3. a voice in the wilderness July 13, 2012 at 1:32 am - Reply

    The traitor congress is 100% behind Obama’s take down of America approving one freedom killing executive order after another in which we are never able to see or comment upon before execution. It’s all out there folks right before your eyes, but you are blinded by conventional thinking that any serious problem with America is considered just another rainy day that will soon pass away the next morning. Such is the dilemma the temporary free Americans are experiencing, where is our knight in shining armor, our Winston Churchill to save America as he saved the United Kingdom, don’t hold your breath he won’t come forth.

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