Periscope Depth

you hit me once, I hit you back; you gave a kick, I gave a slap

I referred to the escalating protests against the Mubarrak regime as a “Twitter revolution” to Marie. She thought I was trivializing it, but I meant the opposite. I think the use of Twitter as a means of coordinating protest against a dictatorship elevates Twitter, rather than demeaning the protest. I’m excited to see this happen, both in the short run (possible regime change in Egypt) and the long run (new means of circumventing informational control).

That being said, news that the Egyptian government has blocked Twitter inspired the following thought experiment. I’m not saying it’s a parallel case. I don’t even have a rhetorical aim in mind. I just want to know how people would respond.

So let’s just say that the joint Lieberman-Collins “Internet kill switch” bill passes. This bill would give the Executive power to shut down networks and “information providers” in the event of a “national cyber-emergency.” Such power would, per the bill, not be subject to judicial review.

And let’s just say that [Tea Party radicals / Islamic sleeper agents] turn violent in the summer of 2012 and begins staging attacks on federal courthouses, governor’s offices and other U.S. buildings across the country. They coordinate these attacks through Twitter and Facebook. This isn’t a stretch, given the role of Twitter in spreading their agenda over the last few years.

Would you want the President to pull the “kill switch”? If so, why? If not, why not?

Again: this isn’t a rhetorical question. I’m not asking it to prove a point. I’m genuinely curious to what people think.

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