“No president from either party should have the sole power to shut down or take control of the internet or any other of our communication channels during an emergency.”—Senator Rand Paul
What’s to stop the U.S. government from throwing the kill switch and shutting down phone and internet communications in a time of so-called crisis?
After all, it’s happening all over the world.
Communications kill switches have become tyrannical tools of domination and oppression to stifle political dissent, shut down resistance, forestall election losses, reinforce military coups, and keep the populace isolated, disconnected and in the dark, literally and figuratively.
As the Guardian reports, “From Ukraine to Myanmar, government-run internet outages are picking up pace around the world. In 2021, there were 182 shutdowns in 34 countries… Countries across Africa and Asia have turned to shutdowns in a bid to control behaviour, while India, largely in the conflict-ridden region of Jammu and Kashmir, plunged into digital darkness more times than any other last year… Civil unrest in Ethiopia and Kazakhstan has triggered internet shutdowns as governments try to prevent political mobilisation and stop news about military suppression from emerging.”
In an internet-connected age, killing the internet is tantamount to bringing everything—communications, commerce, travel, the power grid—to a standstill.
Tyrants and would-be tyrants rely on this “cloak of darkness” to advance their agendas.
In Myanmar, for example, the internet shutdown came on the day a newly elected government was to have been sworn in. That’s when the military staged a digital coup and seized power. Under cover of a communications blackout that cut off the populace from the outside world and each other, the junta “carried out nightly raids, smashing down doors to drag out high-profile politicians, activists and celebrities.”
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