Report Concludes Internet Kill Switch is a Bad Idea

Tuesday, January 18, 2011



The report was produced by the London School of Economics and the University of Oxford for the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

It concludes that the implementation of a federally controlled Internet kill switch to prioritize web resources in the case of a national emergency could have detrimental effects.

"In the very simplest sense the Internet cannot really be switched off because it has no centre. In most emergencies you would want to give priority to doctors, but most doctors and their surgeries use the same downstream Internet facilities as the bulk of the population and there would be no easy way to identify them. Localised Internet switch-off is likely to have significant unwanted consequences," the report notes.

The report estimates that the likelihood a national or international event would be Internet-centric, such as all-out cyberwar, would be quite low and would most likely be accompanied by conventional military campaign.

The most likely event would be a natural disaster that effectively cripples these private sector systems, which in turn could diminish government capabilities that are dependent on systems outsourced to the private sector.

The authors point out that the majority of a nation's critical infrastructure is in the control of the private sector, outside of the control of military and government systems.

Instead of centralized control mechanisms such as the Internet kill switch proposal, the report recommends efforts be focused on the further development of strategic computer emergency response teams (CERTS) which can better assess situations and affect productive measures to mitigate large scale cyber events.


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