The Evolution of the Legislative Proposals About the 'Internet Kill Switch' in the U.S.A.: A Historic-Legal Analysis
19 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2016 Last revised: 27 Jul 2016
Date Written: October 1, 2013
The colloquial expression known as the "Internet Kill Switch" has been defined as the attempt to interrupt all Internet and cellular communication network activity by the direct action of the government of a nation-state; as such, the Internet kill switch represents the ultimate form of control over the Internet. This case study presents the historic-legal evolution of three bills of the Senate from the United States of America and a White House proposal that attempted to give legal powers to the President of the United States to control the Internet traffic when the nation-state faces a cyber-attack. In this regard, this paper has three purposes:
1. To examine, from a historical perspective, the evolution of the debates from supporters of the Senate bills, and the counter-arguments, that came from civil liberties organizations who opposed them, between 2009 and 2011, to justify giving the President legal powers to apply the Internet kill switch.
2. To analyze historically the White House directive and possible similarities with the bills of the Senate from the United States of America, in particular with the bill S.413.
3. To analyze whether the main purpose of the three United States bills remained always the same: to give legal authority to the President of the United States to try control the Internet traffic within United States territory.
Findings show that members of the government consider that the current statutory provisions contained in the Telecommunications Act of 1934 and further amendments of 1996, already give power to the President to try to apply the Internet kill switch within United States territory. This interpretation remained during the debate of the last bill under analysis in this paper, S.413, despite the civil society concerns about the possibility of granting "unclear powers" to the President of the United States to control the Internet.
Primary sources for this project are the text of the United States bills, United States Senate reports, the text of the White House directive and hearings conducted within the United States Senate. Information contained in newspapers and social media will be used as a secondary source.
Keywords: U.S.A., kill switch, S.773, S.3480. S.413, National Security, GigaNet
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