Trump wants to 'close up' the Internet:
Donald Trump has called for a shutdown of the Internet in certain areas to stop the spread of terror.
In a speech at the U.S.S. Yorktown in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, on Monday, Trump referenced the use by ISIS of social media as a recruitment tool. He recommended a discussion with Bill Gates to shut off parts of the Internet.
“We’re losing a lot of people because of the Internet,” Trump said. “We have to go see Bill Gates and a lot of different people that really understand what’s happening. We have to talk to them about, maybe in certain areas, closing that Internet up in some way. Somebody will say, ‘Oh freedom of speech, freedom of speech.‘ These are foolish people. We have a lot of foolish people.”
Some totalitarian governments do it
The notion that the Internet could be shut off is not completely off base. North Korea does it. Some countries have been known to shut off Internet service to their citizens in times of crisis. Egypt restricted the Internet during the 2011 Arab Spring uprising.
Other countries block certain Internet services and sites. China is the most famous example, forbidding most social networking sites as well as websites that deal with subjects the government doesn’t want its citizens to know about.
Most Western countries, including the United States, regulate the Internet very loosely. There are few restrictions about what American citizens can do and say on the Internet. Child pornography is one example of forbidden Internet activity in the United States – Google is barred from linking to it, and websites cannot display images of it.
Why the United States can’t do it
But a full-on “closing up” of the Internet “in certain areas” would be an impossible task. There are so many players with so much redundancy built into the system, that the Internet is not just something that can be turned off with a wave of a magic wand.
Virtually every part in the United States has multiple Internet service provider options.
Comcast, (CMCSA) Time Warner Cable (TWC) and the other major broadband companies don’t overlap much. But Verizon (VZ, Tech30), AT&T (T, Tech30), Sprint (S) and T-Mobile (TMUS) all provide the same service to roughly the same areas. Satellite companies also provide Internet to most parts of the country.
Removing Internet service in certain areas of the U.S. would require those companies to turn off their cell towers and fiber networks, and to restrict satellite access to people living in those regions.
America can’t shut off the Internet overseas either
Shutting down Internet service in foreign countries could be even more difficult.
Despite a common belief to the contrary, the United States does not control the global Internet. Servers on foreign soil serve up the Web and other Internet services to people living abroad.
So foreign Internet infrastructure would need to be disrupted or shut down to turn off service in certain areas – already a tricky task made even harder if the countries and companies controlling those servers and cell towers abroad don’t cooperate.
Whatever, Donald Trump wouldn’t want the Internet shut off anyway. Then he couldn’t tweet.
While Trump clearly doesn’t know the first thing about how the internet works (outside of his Twitter account), don’t let “it couldn’t happen in America” blind us to some very real ways in which the internet can be made less free, less accessible, and less useful for things other than government propaganda and surveillance. And don’t doubt that President Trump (and his party) would be happy to implement them.
the time honored tool of every dictator, censorship is one of the first things out of trump’s mouth. this is real censorship, as opposed to when someone tells you you’re wrong on twitter.
it should come as no surprise whatsoever that 45′s pick for FCC commissioner, ajit pai, is SUPER excited to strip net neutrality from american citizens. if you didn’t know, net neutrality is the principle that currently allows you to access whatever internet site you want, at the same speed as all the other sites, without your ISP spying on you TOO much. the US regulations that protect you in this way are an annoying speed bump for ISPs in their quest to wring you like a wet dishrag until all your money falls out, and of course Team Spraytan works for them, not you.
and hey, if they do want to enact the fuckin lunatic censorship proposed in the article above, getting rid of these protections will be their first stop. what’s the most likely target of this anti-internet offensive? obviously, it’ll be american activists, scientists, and anybody who’s ever used the phrase “tiny hands” – or, as all those folks will be called in newspeak, terrorists.
just one more thing you should keep on your list of Horrible Things To Yell At Representatives About.
I want to be clear: this is not, not, NOT a time to panic.
A time to get angry? Yes. A time to call your congresscritter? Absolutely.
I also would like you to consider: BACK. UP. YOUR SHIT.
There’s not a huge rush – as the post says, this isn’t something that could come down the pike tomorrow, if it even could succeed – but it does not hurt to save copies of your favorite fic, contact info of friends (if – and that is a BIG IF – you trust them, that includes brick space (as compared to cyber space) details, under the theory that in extreme circumstances you might not have access to any kind of modern tech). If you can afford a PO Box, then community leaders might want to set one up and make sure that members know that address, because before the internet mailgroups were still a thing.
Skype and IM chatlogs are so ephemeral. The cloud might not always be accessible to us, and we might not always be able to trust the sections of the cloud that we currently can. We don’t have the physical letters and artifacts that made up our grandparents’ correspondence – saving significant conversations and fan art to files on your computer, or various other services, or just backup-drives is important. How many times have any of us turned to the words of our friends, our chosen family, because that is a reminder that we are not alone, that others care? Keep those words, because we’re already hearing too much hate and dissension. “The Other” might well be a screen name you know, and care about. Even if not, reminders of love and support and humor are always good.
Keep a printout of important data – a fire-proof safe, or a safe deposit box are excellent. If you can, memorize phone numbers (and remember that phones are not secure). We have all seen video of book burnings, we all learned in school about how culture is attacked on all fronts, and how fragile that can be in the face of madmen who think that what does not reflect them is of no value.
We are of value, we inhabitants of electronic villages, these virtual communities. I don’t care if it’s the odd corner on Tumblr, or the circle of communication on Twitter, or the fandom on AO3 that feels like every reader and writer of that niche knows each other and has reviewed each others’ works.
We exist. We have voices. Collectively, we are better educated than any of our ancestors. We are better connected than any generation before. We have been bored silly in English classes with 1984, and Fahrenheit 451. We’ve been tested in history classes about the Invasion of Poland, D-Day, the camps. Many of us have grown up with Harry Potter.
WE KNOW THIS STORY.
Talking to Bill Gates will not get the orange who must not be named a useful approach to shutting down the internet. The fact that he’s tossing around crackpot ideas does not make him any less potentially harmful.
We are communities across the country, across the world. Keep the ties that you can. History books are written by the winners. Lore is transmitted through the survivors.
We will survive whatever it is we are facing.