December 16, 2004

Bush Prepares for Possible Internet Shutdown

WASHINGTON, 16 December 2004 --- /Denounce Newswire/ --- President Bush has ordered plans for temporarily disabling the Internet during a national crisis to prevent terrorists from using the technology, the White House said Wednesday.

Any shutdown of the network inside the United States would come under only the most remarkable circumstances, said a Bush administration official who spoke to a small group of reporters at the White House on condition of anonymity.

The Internet is vital to the global economy ever since the commercial rise of the World Wide Web in the mid-1990s.

The president also instructed the Defense Department to develop plans to disable, in certain areas, an enemy's access to the Internet, including Europe, South America, and Asia.

The military increasingly uses secure Internet technology for troop email, instant messaging, and playing action-packed multiplayer games like Halo II. Any government-ordered shutdown or jamming of the Internet would be done in ways to limit disruptions to systems outside the affected area, the White House said.

"This is not something you would do lightly," said James A. Lewis, director of technology policy for the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. "It's clearly a big deal. You have to give them credit for being so brazen about what they're going to do."

President Clinton abandoned the practice in May 2000 of deliberately degrading the accuracy of civilian navigation signals, a technique known as "selective availability." According to Clinton, it was just a bad idea.

The White House said it will not reinstate that practice, but said the president could decide to disable parts of the network for national security purposes.

The directives to the Defense Department and the Homeland Security Department were part of a space policy that Bush signed this month. It designates the Internet as a critical infrastructure for the U.S. government. Part of the new policy is classified; other parts were disclosed Wednesday.

The White House said the policies were aimed at improving the stability and performance of the Internet, which Bush pledged will continue to be made available.

The Internet is a global internetwork of millions of computers large and small and forms the basis for much of the global information economy. Billions of people worldwide use the Internet every day and such disruptions would no doubt prove catastrophic to many national economies.

Bush also said the government will make the Internet more resistant to deliberate or inadvertent jamming, immoral thoughts, and seditious speech.

Posted by denounce on December 16, 2004 07:23 AM

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