Rights Group Sues Big Sis Over Internet Kill Switch

DHS could execute communications shutdown for entire cities

Steve Watson

A privacy rights group has brought a lawsuit to gain more detailed information on the federal government’s ability to shut off the internet in the event of a national crisis.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has filed Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security, in response to a failure by the agency to release any documents pertaining to the “Emergency Wireless Protocols,” (Standard Operating Procedure 303 or “SOP 303″).

SOP 303 outlines exactly how the DHS would carry out a complete communications shutdown in the event of what it deemed an emergency situation.

EPIC explains in its complaint that the DHS has publicly stated that under SOP 303 an agency component “will function as the focal point for coordinating any actions leading up to and following the termination of private wireless network connections, both within a localized area, such as a tunnel or bridge, and within an entire metropolitan area.”

The DHS, led by ‘Big Sis’ Janet Napolitano, said recently that it was “unable to locate or identify any responsive records” on the matter.

The issue is directly related to the much feared Obama Internet ‘kill switch’, a tangible government policy that was eventually purportedly dropped from cybersecurity legislation making its way through the Congress.

“Public apprehension about the possibility of handing the White House a ‘kill switch’ for the Internet has dogged the cybersecurity debate, fueled by a proposal that would have codified emergency powers for the president in the event of a catastrophic attack,” reported the Hill last year.

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