The US Government Has An Internet Killswitch — And It’s None Of Your Business

The Supreme Court has refused to hear a petition concerning the Department of Homeland Security’s secretive internet and cellphone killswitch program.
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    On Monday the Supreme Court declined to hear a petition from the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) that sought to force the Department of Homeland Security to release details of a secret “killswitch” protocol to shut down cellphone and internet service during emergencies.

    EPIC has been fighting since 2011 to release the details of the program, which is known as Standard Operating Procedure 303. EPIC writes:

    “On March 9, 2006, the National Communications System (‘NCS’) approved SOP 303, however it was never released to the public. This secret document codifies a ‘shutdown and restoration process for use by commercial and private wireless networks during national crisis.’”

    EPIC continues, “In a 2006-2007 Report, the President’s National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (‘NSTAC’) indicated that SOP 303 would be implemented under the coordination of the National Coordinating Center (‘NCC’) of the NSTAC, while the decision to shut down service would be made by state Homeland Security Advisors or individuals at DHS. The report indicates that NCC will determine if a shutdown is necessary based on a ‘series of questions.’”

    Despite EPIC’s defeat at the hands of the Supreme Court, the four-year court battle yielded a heavily redacted copy of Standard Operating Procedure 303.

    The fight for transparency regarding SOP 303 began shortly after a Bay Area Rapid Transit (“BART”) officer in San Francisco shot and killed a homeless man named Charles Hill on July 3, 2011. The shooting sparked massive protests against BART throughout July and August 2011. During one of these protests, BART officials cut off cell phone service inside four transit stations for three hours. This kept anyone on the station platform from sending or receiving phone calls, messages, or other data.

    In July 2012, EPIC submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the DHS seeking the full text of Standard Operating Procedure 303; the full text of the predetermined “series of questions” that determines if a shutdown is necessary; and any executing protocols related to the implementation of Standard Operating Procedure 303, distributed to DHS, other federal agencies, or private companies.

    After the DHS fought the FOIA releases, a district court in Washington, D.C. ruled in EPIC’s favor, but that ruling was later overturned by the court of appeals. The appeals court told EPIC the government was free to withhold details of the plan under the Freedom of Information Act because the information might “endanger” the public.  In 2015, the digital rights group asked the Supreme Court to review the ruling by the federal appeals court.

    With the Supreme Court’s refusal to address EPIC’s petition, the issue seems to have reached a dead-end. The American people are (once again) left in the dark regarding the inner-workings of another dangerous and intrusive government program. It is only through the hard work of activists and groups like EPIC that we are at least aware of the existence of this program — but knowing bits and pieces about the protocol is not enough. In order to combat such heavy-handed measures, we need to have access to the government’s own documents. Hopefully, there is already a whistleblower preparing to release these details.

    What we do with the information we do have is up to each of us as individuals. We can sit back and watch the United States further devolve into a militarized police and surveillance state — or we can spread this information, get involved locally, and create new systems outside of the current paradigm of control and exploitation.

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    • Aa Morris

      The Government controls communications and transportation. They can shut it down whether legal or not.

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    • bluebird

      It would be naive to assume that the Internet, Cell phone service and GPS system couldn’t be controlled with the push of a button. Since all of the GPS Satellite are owned by the US military as well as the majority of Communication Satellites, I can’t imagine the NSA not having that ability.

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    • Steve Johns

      They can’t do it logistically. Look at the physical infrastructure of the net and how it works, it’s impossible. They could maybe do it for the US but not the entire world. Even then in the US it would only be temporary as there would be definite workarounds. This is scare tactics for those who don’t understand the infrastructure they use everyday.

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    • Bob F

      This is why ground up communication platforms need to be created. Mesh networking of user wifi routers together are needed, a default part of any router.

      We can’t allow the government to cut off communications services like we are some kind of enemy.

    • eyelostmyname

      Stalin and Hitler started out doing sheet like this.

    • KarenHudes

      The courts in the United States are not the ones guaranteed under Article III of the Constitution of 1789. The martial law and military rule of Gen. Joseph Dunford, Jr. is now over — instead the US is in interregnum, pending restoration of the Constitution of 1789 under Article V. In the meantime, the Federal Reserve Notes are getting exchanged for US Treasury Dollars. Where do we stand on the Global Currency Reset that the Board of Governors of the World Bank and IMF are implementing? Mayor Muriel Bowser, who thinks that she commands the District of Columbia under martial law, had better not prevent me from entering the World Bank headquarters building. The Network of Global Corporate Control identified by Vitali, Glattfelder, and Battiston of ETH Zurich is no longer in control.

      .@teammuriel DC’s biggest employer

    • Angela Ruzzo

      Hurricane Katrina had a “kill switch” too – folks in southern Louisiana lived for 3-4 weeks without internet or cell phones afterwards, and there was a lot of hysteria about it, particularly from teenagers. But the fact is, we survived without them. We can all survive without them if we have to. They won’t feed you or keep you warm in the winter or put gas in your car.


      They ‘may’ or ‘may’ NOT have a kill switch, but I most certainly DO have 2 middle fingers!!!
      They can see BOTH, whenever THEY like!!!!


      How can they do this legally? I rescinded their authority YEARS Ago!!!!


      Correction to this story: They “Think” they have a kill switch!!! They also think THEY are great at
      their jobs!!! They also think THEY know best!!! Clearly their delusional, & yet you print their words
      as fact? Not sure which is worse. Those making the false claims, or those printing those claims
      as truths?

    • gezzerx

      Why would any true loyal Americans, be they Democrat or Republican, Male or Female, White,Black,Hispanic or other, vote for a Democrat or a Republican when both .parties have shown their willingness to subvert the Constitution, our Civil Liberties, and our National Sovereignty through the TPP (The Trans Pacific Partnership) and have been doing so for decades & the Governments own records have proven this to be true ! We are being sold out by the Democrats & Republicans ! It now has become a choice between Fascism or Liberty & Fascism is winning !

      Both parties have been complicit in this criminal activity. Some will say they don’t want to waste their vote, but you are already wasting your vote on Democrats & Republicans because they are the ones who have already betrayed us ! This should be a joint effort on the part of all Americans, Democrats,Republicans & Independent voters ! Organize now before its to late ! Your liberty is at stake and that of your children & grandchildren !

      We get the Government we deserve, and nothing will change until we stop electing Democrats & Republicans after all they are the ones subverting the Constitution, & they must be held to account both politically & legally !

      Both parties are owned by corporate America, two sides of the same coin ! Wise up America .

      No more lies, excuses, rationalizations,or justifications, the public needs to hold these officials to account to the fullest extent of the law under Title 18 sec. 241 & 242 (Google it), so any future traitors will know there will be consequences to such behavior.

      Unaccountable power is absolute power, & is absolutely corrupt !

      As Mr. Snowden said the Politicians are afraid of you ! Now is the time exercise you power, you may not get another chance !


      Some words of true Patriots are as follows, as opposed to the words of false flag patriotism of bought & paid for professional politicians of today.

      He that is of the opinion money will do everything may well be suspected of doing everything for money.
      Benjamin Franklin

      He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.
      Benjamin Franklin

      Experience hath shown, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.
      Thomas Jefferson

      Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.
      Thomas Jefferson

      Tyranny is defined as that which is legal for the government but illegal for the citizenry.”
      Thomas Jefferson.

      “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security,”
      Thomas Jefferson wrote this in the Declaration of Independence .

      In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.
      James Madison

      Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power.
      James Madison

      The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.
      Patrick Henry

      “We the People are the rightful masters of BOTH Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution”
      Abraham Lincoln

      America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.
      Abraham Lincoln

      We should not forget the warning of President Eisenhower .
      The NSA is controlled & operated by the DOD & the MIC (Military Industrial Complex) Private Corporations.

      “The very word “secrecy” is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it.”
      President John F. Kennedy
      Waldorf-Astoria Hotel
      April 27, 1961

      As is said in the law, falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus. (“False in one thing, false in all things” is an instruction given to jurors: if they find that a witness lied about an important matter, they are entitled to ignore everything else that witness said.) The Government has been lieing to the American public for decades !

      As a reminder Hermann Goering said at the Nuremberg Trials .
      “The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”

      “Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.”
      Benito Mussolini

      Time to start removing the corporate Congress from office & defunding the NSA & the Police Surveillance state, to pre 9-11 levels & force them to comply with the law & impose jail time for non compliance under USC Title 18 Sec. 241 & 242 (Google it) .

      Time to send a message to Democrats & Republicans that they can’t ignore & will understand !

      Only after the members of our 3 branches of Government, both Republicans & Democrats who conspired in this criminal conspiracy & violated the Constitution are prosecuted, should Mr. Snowden be charged with a crime. Prosecute those who broke the law first, in chronological order, then the Government can get around to Mr Snowden .

      The short version of the above is as follows:
      Any Government or Party that doesn’t abide by the Constitution does not deserve our respect or support ! ! ! They are traitors !

      Disclaimer: Be advised it is possible, that this communication is being monitored by the National Security Agency or GCHQ. I neither condone or support any such policy, by any Government authority or third party that does not comply, as stipulated by the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

    • XPh]i[les

      not surprised, and until people rise up collectively and take back our country, it will only get worse, one person can’t do it, but if you start something, others jump on board. I could live without internet and cell phone, did in the 90s. Didn’t even see internet until 1998.

    • 5topAmnesty

      OF COURSE the government can shut down Internet and Cell Phones. They can also shut down GPS.

      But here’s the question: Can you live without them? Can you even get home from work?

      • They cant make their money though, which is why they will not want to shut it down for very long.

    • Little c

      And then when when they use it they can turn it back on and use “broadcast” to keep us/US informed (that’s none of our business either) probably won’t get to see it but you won’t be able to avoid it.

    • BHF

      Just keep paying your taxes, keep your mouths shut, and behave like good little peasants. Your betters will tell you want you need to know.


        In other words,”KEEP FUNDING THE REAL TERRORIST”!!!

    • beancrisp

      FACT: Only people who support tyrannical government agree with the court’s decision.

      • var1328

        Thanks for the tip. I love tyrannical governments. 😀


          I love em’ too… AFTER they’ve been destroyed by angry Citizens!!!

    • Jesse Owens

      First my paranoid friends this is ENTIRELY different than the NSA spying program. This program is for protection in case of dire emergency. I can think of several uses for such a procedure without even trying hard. A concerted mass attack on our infrastructure using the Net by a foreign nation. A Nuclear threat in which the detonation sequence is to becell- phoned in. An event like 9-11 where we discover while it is in progress they are communicating and coordinating via cellphone ect. There are legitimate reasons to have such a protocol and just as legitimate reasons that knowing the exact details of its operation could cause it to fail

    • benarah89

      SCOTUS.. not of the people for the people or by the people. It is nothing more than a political train wreck and I do not recognize SCOTUS as anything but a whimsical, political tool.

    • Ollie in Seattle

      I worked for a security company in Seattle about 4 years ago. I know for a fact that ONE of the internet kill switches exists there

    • ThinkMn

      Self-forming mesh networks. The only survivable communications network which is why our military in the field use them. Simple, cheap and the U.S. has enough enabled devices to make them work.

    • Gisela

      doesn’t this violate the 1st ammendment?

    • 999Greg

      I can be endangered by finding out what the government is planning for me? What country am I in?

      • ken

        The government is all over the net, As they deem it a public place like a resturant…

        But then again when we had party lines(kinda like the internet you shared telephone lines with many people and shared the cost of the service,though this did not include long distance) in the old days with land lines they couldn’t listen in without a warrant…

    • Barry

      I love this, the theory is that the emercgency responders need communications links. think about this… a few years ago HD broadcasting came to be by moving to new band widths. The old bad widths the government needed for the military,remember that!

      The real reason for jamming communications is to blank out uncontrolled recording of the event and verbal descriptions being linked to the outside. How else do you control people, take away their comm links.

      So much for transparency of the government of and for the people.

    • feas ant

      we the people, do not count anymore. it is time to change THAT

    • rick spalding

      They should put these systems in place at gym’s. Can’t stand these bozo’s constantly yapping on the phone.

    • Doug Shepherd

      People are surprised by this? The government’s had a “kill switch” on the phone lines for decades. The reason you can’t get a phone line after an emergency isn’t that everybody’s trying to call home (though that’s part of it), the big reason is that the phone lines have been reserved for emergency services. It’s far more important for them to have reliable communications than for ten bazillion people to be able to call Aunt Hazel and make sure she’s okay.

      All as it should be.

      • The Moogly

        Hog wash. Emergency services have emergency communication abilities.

    • BlackRipleyDog

      Well, if you need to crash cell coverage to prevent suitcase nukes or chemical weapons from going off, I’m on-board with that.

      • XPh]i[les

        sounds like post 9/11 reasoning all over again

        • BlackRipleyDog

          Well, we are living in a post-9/11 age.

      • TeeJae

        More BS to justify taking away our freedoms.

    • atelier111

      It makes sense. You shut down the access and Black rioters can’t use Twitter to organize and attack.

    • John Milton

      People just go about their little lives like ants and have no idea of the coming police state.

    • David

      What sort of “national crisis” would require gagging the collective mouth of the American people? No good can or will come of the implementation of SOP 303.

      • RandallPoopenmeyer

        Yea really, sounds very North Korea to me..

      • Artie

        So obama can install martial law when democrats are’nt going to win the presidential election.

        • Bob F

          I heard the same fears about Bush…

    • Bozo.

      Uncle Idiot watching you….

    • eazy

      More inept government meddling.

    • Joe Strange

      The first step in establishing a dictatorship is to ban freedom of speech. Take away texting and InterNet and the youth of America will be rendered speechless.
      “Text the person sitting next to me on the couch and say, ‘Hello!’…”

      • Jason C.

        Notice that the US Supreme Court REFUSED to hear the petition?

        Thats how the failed system of government operates in America.

        When they know they cannot protect their criminal buddies inside government, the “justice” system
        simply REFUSES to act. Same when cops are caught killing on video recordings… their criminal buddies inside the county District Attorney Offices simply REFUSE to prosecute.

        Same as when a recent court case was attempting to force the DEA to testify in court as to their classification of pot in the same category as narcotics which they knew they could not defend. The DEA and their criminal buddies inside the court system simply maneuvered such that they didn’t have to debate actual medical physicians in open court. It wasn’t about honesty. It wasn’t about truth. That case was demonstrative of how the criminals inside government operate outside of our control and pretend that we have “justice” and pretend that voters control the government…

        • Joe Strange

          Search for the OCTOPUS scandal and you’ll see how the CIA just ignored Senate subpoenas about their criminal activities and nothing happened. They probably had J. Edgar Hoover’s old files…

        • 999Greg

          Yea — they frequently do that on lack of “standing” — which means if someone suffers some sort of harm *after/when* it happens — then that person has standing.

          With so much secret stuff going on, list the secret administrative “terrorist” label, no-fly list, secret court, gag orders — where/ how are you going to find someone with “standing” to take it to any court? After all, it could just be the routine loss of signal, temporary outage that we’ve all seen in our normal day-to-day usage.

    • alan scout

      All BART did was turn off their repeaters inside the station they didn’t block anyone’s cell phone, since the cell towers generally won’t reach the terminals they provide customers with the convenience. I have to use a AT&T microcell at home and what they did is the equivalent of me unplugging it. As far as the goverment being able to shut off cell service in an emergency, good. Many IED’s have been triggered by cell phones in Iraq and it’s good to know they are trying to stop that here.

      • Joe Strange

        Yeah, no bombs ever exploded before cell phones. Sheesh…

        • Patrick Fox

          Cell phone as a way to trigger bombs is a cheap, poor man’s way of making a remote explosive. Of course their are other ways but disabling a popular one isn’t a stupid idea.

        • Jason C.

          Alan Scout = spewing government propaganda.

          If the government were operating simply as a matter of national security rather than some sinister motive, it could easily have just said, “yes, we can temporarily do this or that to accomplish a defense against IED’s or whatever.

          You all do realize, don’t you, that the government employees actually post on these boards as one method to manipulate the public mood and thought process, right? Thats what government propaganda is all about. Spewing government dictates and making them look like reasonable thoughts…like Alan Scout did with his lame “IED” idea.

          • Joe Strange

            People usually either don’t realize, or loss track of the fact, that there are several ‘armies’ of paid InterNet posters, both government and corporate, whose sole job it is to push an agenda. Ready *any* article on Putin or the Russians to see clear examples…

      • TeeJae

        “All they did?” Why did they do that at all? It certainly wasn’t for safety reasons. It was to prevent bystanders from sharing video on social media. That is freedom-restricting and illegal.