Egypt has pulled just such a switch in the face of growing demonstrations to overthrow the Mubarak regime.
We should learn two things from Egypt's example:
- The kill switch is more likely to be used to kill domestic dissent, which is exactly how it's being used in Egypt. If they were really worried about certain government or industry users, they could simply call them up and tell them to pull the ethernet cable or wifi card out of their computers--it ain't rocket science. More importantly though:
- The kill switch doesn't work. The leader who pulls it admits that he is a coward afraid of his own people having access to information and access to each other. Those who propose such a switch in the United States or elsewhere have contempt for democracy and even if elected, serve the very wealthy who need protection from democracy not the rest of us.
Instead of looking for ways to silence dissent and keep up the embarrassing kibuki pretense of democracy, where we can vote all we want so long as the wealth of the very wealthy remains untouched and their crimes go unpunished, our government should be looking for ways to sync their words with reality instead of PR tested talking points and sync their policies with the common good instead of using public office to line up their next job as a lobbyist, CEO, or board member for the companies they served while in office (or if they are president, the more circuitous bribes of speaking fees and donations to their foundations and presidential libraries).
If Washington doesn't learn the lesson of Egypt and serve the massive middle and working class instead of the miniscule moneyed class, a lot of DC politicians will be joining Hosni Mubarak on whatever desolate rock where he lives out his sorry life.