Homeland Security’s ability to shut down cellular and wireless networks in times of crisis, such as the potential of a remote detonation bomb threat isn’t new. Exactly how and when it can be used, however, must be disclosed, thanks to a new ruling by a Washington D.C.-based court.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia rejected Homeland Security’s argument that its reasoning and protocols for the dubbed “Internet kill switch” were exempt from public disclosure.
The court ordered the release of the protocol in the next 30 days. Homeland Security can appeal the decision, but it’s not clear if the agency will.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), which obtained a copy of the court ruling, is seeking details of Homeland Security’s so-called “Standard Operating Procedure 303.”
This protocol is described in the court filing as an “emergency wireless protocol… codifying a shutdown and restoration process for use by commercial and private wireless networks during national crises.” Specifically, the protocol can be used to “deter the triggering of radio-activated improvised explosive devices.”
EPIC filed a request for the documents under Freedom of Information Act in July 2012. The federal agency released a heavily redacted and near-unreadable document after saying it could not find the records. Homeland Security said the disclosure would reveal “techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions.”
When a document is unreadable due to extensive redacting, is that in compliance with court orders? My guess is that the government will appeal this decision, once again attempting to take away our right to know what is going on. BIG BROTHER is alive and well and doing even more than George Orwell predicted 80 years ago.
Thanks to Zack Whittaker for Zero Day and ZDNet, and
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