Homeland Security must disclose cell network 'kill switch' protocols, court says

Homeland Security must disclose cell network 'kill switch' protocols, court says

Summary: The U.S. government's rules governing its ability to shut down cellular and wireless networks to prevent remote bomb detonation must be disclosed, a court has ruled.

TOPICS: Security, Networking
DHS' Transportation Security Operations Center (Image: Homeland Security)

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 [PDF], 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, not first after saying it could not find the records. Homeland Security said the disclosure would reveal "techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions."

The privacy group took legal action in order to reveal the full text of the protocol.

You can read the full opinion below:

Topics: Security, Networking

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  • the USA leads you in crisis!

    1) caused economic crisis due to irresponsible money wasting on NSA surveillance, and wars based on lies like Iraq's mass destruction weapons existence+ another murders by USA
    2) people will stand up
    3) the fascistic USA will tell us lies there was a bomb thread
    4) all the communication is shut down
    5) citizens (leaders for freedom) are silently transferred into secret concentration camps built in the USA

    this is how the USA means a new age fascism
  • umm

    Some things are better left undisclosed. I tend to lean toward "more information is better", but I don't think that's necessarily a good idea, here.
  • I normally would utter the words of William Colby

    "There are some secrets worth keeping" we can't do that now. These so called federal security forces have been caught and compromised by the working middle class peoples of our country, not once ,but time and time again. The simple truth is this, you can not be trusted. The erosion of the Constitution started a few decades back with "mind if I search your car?" The situation is this just like when the POWs in the Iraqi prison were abused and now the whole middle and lower classes of the country have suffered, it will be a long long time before any of this is forgotten. Just like Barney in Mayberry you dummies have shot yourselves in the foot.BTW while we're at it can anyone tell us why the Dept. of Education needs a SWAT team?