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Internet Off-Switch: Highly Unlikely, Says the Web’s Inventor

Written by Gary North on September 7, 2012

Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1989. He personally launched the first Web site on Christmas day, 1990.

This week, he told the media in England than the idea that a government could somehow switch off the Web is mythical. To do this would require coordination of all governments.

“The way the internet is designed is very much as a decentralised system. At the moment, because countries connect to each other in lots of different ways, there is no one off switch, there is no central place where you can turn it off.

“In order to be able to turn the whole thing off or really block, suppress one particular idea then the countries and governments would have to get together and agree and co-ordinate and turn it from a decentralised system to being a centralised system.

“And if that does happen it is really important that everybody fights against that sort of direction.”

Ain’t gonna happen. Governments do not cooperate in this way. There is too much jealousy. There is too much turf protecting.

This means that the Web is out of control of the bureaucrats in any one nation. There will be liberty somewhere else. A government agency is hard-pressed to shut down one site. If the site has a server off-shore, a bureaucracy can do little.

There are frequent rumors about an imminent shut-down of the Internet. This is nonsense. Ignore all such rumors.

Every day that business switches to the Web, it becomes less possible for a government to close it. The tax consequences would be too great. Revenues would fall.

Web users would target politicians who called for a shut-down. They would back down or else lose the next election. No politician is going to do this.

The bureaucrats will push for regulation, but they cannot shut down the Web. They can barely regulate it. The Web keeps changing.

The pro-Internet voters can coordinate their opposition, and have. The governments of the world cannot coordinate a shut-down.

Continue Reading on www.guardian.co.uk

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18 thoughts on “Internet Off-Switch: Highly Unlikely, Says the Web’s Inventor

  1. The percieved inability to shut it down is magical thinking. Ever heard of China? Or maybe North Korea? Or what happened in Egypt.

  2. If there are no elections, if we shift to a communistic/autocratic form of government, then all your premises are gone. That is what Obama plans for the U.S., gradually reducing the financial and health resources of every citizen until we can no longer fight against his plans. Then it's "Welcome to Hunger Games". He simply ignores the Constitution, and if no ones comes to the WH to arrest him, he ignores Congress, then the Supreme Court rulings. He tells everyone exactly what they want to hear, and if someone complains, he tells them what THEY want to hear and denies saying what they didn't like. We can excuse people who believed him in 2008 when we didn't have much of a record to judge and only had his words to make a decision by, but now, we have nearly 4 years of actions to judge him by, so there's NO excuse for continuing to believe a man who lies and denies.

  3. Sapphira Sez says:

    Does Al Gore know this Tim Berners-Lee, the man who ACTUALLY invented the internet?? What a blow to ol' Lyin' Al's ego, to have this actual fact squeeze itself out into the public!! No, ol' Lyin' Al is like his brothers Lyin' John Kerry, Lyin' Ted Kennedy, Lyin' Hussein OBlamer, Lyin' Bill Clinton, Lyin' Hillary Clinton, etc., etc., etc.

    And unfortunately the writer of this article is living in a dream world if he thinks it can't be shut down. If nothing else, they can just shut down the whole electric grid system.

  4. amercian.thinker says:

    If you don't pay your internet/cable bill they shut you down pretty fast. It doesn't seem like it would be too hard to shut it down everywhere if the cable and phone companies comply.

    This is why local groups are important.

  5. sparrow298 says:

    The Fed's can't shut down the Internet. Two years ago, they required all business in the US to pay income tax withholding and FICA taxes via an on-line form which then initiates a direct debit from their business checking account. Then the IRS needs to use the Internet to do the direct debit. If the "off" switch it pushed, the Fed's cut themselves off completely from their primary and biggest source of revenue. With no income, no Fed's. They would shoot themselves in both feet if they tried it. Then it would be freedom for all when they have no money to operate. So, the 'Net will stay up in spite of what they think they can do.

  6. Synthesized Internet Off-Switch ? Ideological superstructure ? The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, warned of this very day .

  7. so true. China has shut it down more than once.

  8. Also who would have thought that a president would go around and disregard our constitution as this one has done? Whats that saying "Never say Never"?

  9. It's going to be tough coming up with enough honest voters to overcome the deceit and cheating of the other party. If Romney loses God forbid, how will we know it was legal and what the majority wanted? But there again No ID can work both ways, that alone shows you that Obama knows the Republicans will not challenge the outcome, but the Democrats will if it goes the other way. Its bad enough with having the ID required, but to say No, you dont need one is just stupid unless there is a so called hidden agenda. Which I for one am sure there is. But this is off topic and I apologize.

  10. Myanmar seemed to cut off internet use by having gmail servers shut down at times and claiming there were technical problems. But actually most people in Burma could not access the internet for varying periods of time and no such technical problems existed outside of the country..

  11. It is trivial to poison the domain name system and substitute a new address for the real one. Scammers and viruses do this all the time.

    It is easy to block the high speed/capacity major links between continents and countries. China does it. Egypt did it. It could happen here.

    This article gives false security.

  12. And who would have thought that "Law Enforcement" would so enthusiastically ENABLE him to do so?

  13. Very well put. Short and to the point. As mr. Eastwood said,the people had the wool pulled over their eyes last election but it time to admit you made a mistake and correct it.

  14. And that's exactly what this administration wants
    …everyone to have a "sense of security"!

  15. Ways to shut down the Internet.

    1. Interfere with domain name resolution.
    2. Block/filter various types of traffic in key switching locations – intermittent failure
    3. Regulate – the internet infrastructure, various types of traffic or devices which attach
    4. Tax – the internet, sales, devices which attach or the materials used in their production
    5. Virus / Government snooping – intermittent failures
    6. Turn off/Regulate/Tax the power/fuel/energy used for these purposes
    7. Shut down/Tax/Regulate data centers that house machines which provide many of the Internet services
    8. Interfere with food production – hungry people don't pay their telco bills
    9. Gain control of highest capacity infrastructure components, particularly fiber backbones, and control bandwidth and traffic
    10. As bandwidth demands for applications grow, old infrastructure components are insufficient to service the application on even the home PC. Control build-out and management functionality of the next generation Internet – i.e. Internet II, which is being done now.

    The value for governments is to use the Internet for surveillance and control once it is re-engineered to be better controlled, while still enabling the services that benefit government. Just the same way everything else is handled.

    Perhaps controlling the internet sounds far fetched. But controlling the Internet would much easier than a small cadre of individuals gaining complete control of the world's banking systems, driving them toward a single world currency and stripping whole nation's of their wealth and freedom repeatedly and increasingly over the course of centuries…

    The internet is a tremendous asset for those who desire freedom, but neither its operation nor its future is beyond the reach of government.

  16. Jerome from Layton says:

    How do the Chinese and Iranians do it? People are going from "blog" to Gulag regularly in those places.

  17. Jerome from Layton says:

    By the way, just how were they monitoring "all that chatter" before and after 9-11?

  18. The internet, although it began as a Defense Dept. project called ARPANET, was never intended to be made available to we the people. This is typical of governments: they tax the productivity of their people to use on projects/services/privileges that the people never get to enjoy. The NASA space program was the one place where innovations actually were shared with the people who paid for it all. The internet slipping the reins of government was an accident.