The President May Get The Authority To Kick Us All Offline

As weird and scary as it sounds, there may be a time when you'll be able to blame your server going down on the current U.S. President instead of your internet provider.

A new U.S. Senate bill known as the "Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset" Act, would enable the president to access a "kill-switch" that would essentially allow him/her to pull the plug on portions of the internet in a cyber security emergency. According to Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), "…we cannot afford to wait for a cyber 9/11 before our government realises the importance of protecting our cyber resources."

What portions of the internet would this affect? That's up to Homeland Security, according to a report on the proposed bill from CNET. Essentially, any company that "relies on the internet, the telephone system, or any other component of the U.S. information infrastructure" could be required to operate under the command of the National centre for Cybersecurity and Communications (NCCC), a new division of Homeland Security that would be put into operation if the bill passes. These companies would be required to keep their security measures up to NCCC standards. If they chose not to abide by the emergency shut down procedures put in place, they would be subject to a fine.

For online gamers, this may seem to be an attack on our recreational time. In many cases, we are paying for the online services we utilise, such as Xbox Live or subscription games. In turn, we rely on them to run ‘round the clock (with the exception of regularly scheduled maintenance periods). If these networks were to all of a sudden go down for a lengthy period of time, would we get our money back? If we were at a pivotal point in our game, would our items and status at the time of the shut down be returned upon the server's revival?

It would be a nuisance more than anything else, especially seeing as many online games cannot be played offline (such as WoW, EVE, Guild Wars and EverQuest ). A compromise mentioned in the bill states that companies would be reimbursed for money lost while their networks were forced to go offline. However, in the midst of whatever crisis has caused the internet be shut down, the game networks themselves may lose subscribers, which would affect business in the long term.

Roping online game networks into this group of internet outlets that could be involved in a security breach if hacked may seem unfair, seeing as online gaming networks really don't leave their users room to store potentially valuable data, aside from perhaps credit card information (unless you count an item that drops .001% of the time that you desperately need to complete your gear set). Sure, they're social networking outlets as well. I suppose you could see a group of orcs or gnomes hanging out and argue that they could be real-life terrorists planning an attack, but it's unlikely that your speculation could be proven true. Gaming networks are not where the threat of national security compromise lies. People log on to them to play a game-to socialize, and nothing more.

The idea of disconnecting all of our nation's servers seems like a knee-jerk reaction, and perhaps too much power for one person to hold. A better idea might be to beef up security on the sites that truly do have sensitive information, allowing the plug to be pulled on those sites in the event of a "cyber emergency."

My only questions are what exactly could be considered a "cyber emergency" and what is the likelihood that such an event will actually occur?

Senators propose granting president emergency Internet power [Cnet]


    I assume a cyber emergency could be constituted by a devastating, fast-spreading malicious virus. Does this idea have any precedent in the telecommunications industry?

    I'd be more worried about the worldwide implications of this "switch" rather than just the gaming implications. Considering a very large majority of internet services are hosted in the USA - flicking any kind of kill switch that limits connectivity could effectively cripple e-commerce. No matter how much planning and research you do, disabling a service will ultimately impact a LOT more people than you may intend. Just because you've mapped out how this affects the USA doesn't mean anything when you consider the globe.

    The problem is that this both essentially adds a new clause to the the right of free speech (that is, the American Government can take it away), and also affects many, many other countries besides America. Don't like America? Get your internet screwed!

    Yes, it probably could be a protection, but more than anything else it is a weapon capable of deleting free speech to the public and a way of digitally besieging countries.

    Cyber emergency would probably be something along the lines of Die Hard 4 actually happening.

    Or Uwe Boll releasing his latest shit-storm of a film on the net.

    It;s just another excuse to give USA government more power to take away US citizens liberties and freedom.

      actually this bill would give the president of the USA the power to kill the intire internet, not just american internet but world wide internet access.

      I believe it was sentor libemen that proposed the bill, but its been met with extremely harsh critism from both democrats and republicians.

      I also cant see Obama support such a bill as well when earlier in the year we had senator clinton give the rudd government the 3rd degree for trying to implement heir proposed mandatory internet filter


    'Oh dear GOD!!!!! DETACH TEH INTERNETZ!'

    'DONE!..........Oh shit....sorry....someone was just playing Quake 2...'

    The internet is just a series of tubes... I guess they just turn the facet off?

    Oh wah wah wah! At least your internet isn't getting butchered! Australians are the ones getting boned the most.

      Though this 'pull the plug' law would actually impact on the entire world. The US thinks it owns the Internet. (Never mind that it kind of does, or at least did, or something...)

    can someone tell the president to block CPAlead?

    US citizen, Australian resident here. Definitely agree that the international effect hasn't really been paid enough attention. Also definitely agree that the average US citizen thinks the internet belongs to the US.

    It's pretty absurd, and that kind of ignorance is one of the major reasons why I left the country.

    That said, this kind of thing is usually met with huge resistance, and Lieberman is kind of a nut job with ties to Jack Thompson. Most of what he does, that the media bothers reporting, seems like an attention-grabbing ploy more than something with legitimate potential for political applications. That applies in this situation.

    And Die Hard 4.0 can't happen, systems like traffic lights are on a closed circuit. BTW, Hackers did that over a decade before Die Hard 4, and it was hilariously unrealistic then.

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