Weekend Gedankenexperiment - The Kill Switch

Charles N Wyble charles at knownelement.com
Fri Feb 4 09:13:09 PST 2011

On 2/3/2011 7:43 PM, Jay Ashworth wrote:
> An armed FBI special agent shows up at your facility and tells your ranking
> manager to "shut down the Internet".

Let's look at this from a different perspective. What level of impairment 
would the feds face if they ordered wide spread
net shut downs.  Do the feds have a big enough network of their own, that 
they can continue to
operate without the commercial nets being up?  I mean they would need to  
declare martial law and coordinate enforcement
activities. Can they do this all via satellite networks?

Also what's to stop the operations staff from saying "no way jose" and  
walking out?

Ok. Let's say they aren't dependent on the net being up. What would the  
scenario look like?

Presumably this would be at a major IX, colo etc? Like say One Wilshire or 
They would show up with several agents, and probably some tech folks. One 
presumes they would have
an injunction or some other legal authority to order you to terminate  
connectivity. This would have to
be spelled out to the letter (terminate all IX traffic, drop all external 
sessions, take down core routers

> What do you do when you get home to put it back on the air

Put what back on the air? Regional connectivity to let people coordinate a 
revolution? (I'm
dead serious by the way. If things have gotten to the point where the feds 
are shutting down
the net, it's time to follow our founding code:

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it 
is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it

Depending on the geography, one could establish some long distance links  
via 802.11/3.65ghz. Hopefully that gear is
already on stand by.

>   -- let's say email
> as a base service, since it is -- do you have the gear laying around, and how
> long would it take?

Well I'm a huge data ownership guy and have been preaching to folks the  
importance of self hosting.
Lots of details are on my wiki at  
So yes, I have the gear in service already doing my hosting. I also run a 
small neighborhood WISP.
I only offer net access via that WISP, but it would be trivial to stand up 
a neighborhood
xmpp/irc/mail/www server in that VLAN. Maybe I should do that now. Get  
people using it
before hand, so it's what they naturally turn to in time of  
distress/disaster. Hmmm....

> Do you have out-of-band communications (let's say phone numbers) for enough
> remote contacts?

How much phone service would still work, if the feds hit all the major IX 
points and terminate
connectivity? I seem to recall much discussion about the all IP back bone 
of the various large
carriers (Qwest/ATT).  I guess calls in the same CO and maybe between  
regional CO's might work.

Think of this from a disaster preparedness perspective (ie a major  
earthquake or terrorist attack significantly damages One
Wilshire and/or various  IXes in the bay area).  AT&T has a very large CO 
right next to One Wilshire, with something like 1.5
million  lines terminated in the building. It wouldn't take that much work 
for the FBI to shut those places down if they
felt a significant need to.

Interesting thought exercise. Let's keep the conversation going guys/gals!

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