back to article You know the President is able to shut down all US comms, yeah? An FCC commish wants to stop him from doing that

It's troubling how in the past few years some countries have, with increasing zeal, blocked off their own citizens from the internet for gross authoritarian reasons. Ever since the Egyptian government demonstrated it was possible to take a nation offline – something that most countries had assumed for more or less impossible …

  1. G R Goslin

    The ultimate authority

    All civilisations seem to have someone who wields the ultimate power. But what is the alternative? We, in the UK have the queen who nominally wields the ultimate power, but wisely never uses it. Devolving it to another party simply move the problem. The difficulty seems to be that a certain type of individual lusts for power, and as the old adage says, "Power corrupts, and Ultimate Power corrupts absolutely". We see this so often around the world, where someone, totally unsuitable to be controlling anything more complicated than a tram, gains power, and then uses that to extend that power indefinitely. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Having seen the antics of our political parties over the past few years, I shudder at the though of allocating anything like the Ultimate Power in anything meaningful.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The ultimate authority

      Devolving it to another party simply move the problem.

      Indeed so, would we really be any better off if the FCC had that power? At least the President can, in theory, be removed.

    2. localzuk Silver badge

      Re: The ultimate authority

      The issue isn't the authority itself, its the checks and balances, the oversight that is the issue. All such authority should be subject to review and be able to be overruled by other elected officials. So, in the US Congress and the Courts should be able to review it.

    3. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: The ultimate authority

      I don't think a civilization actually has to grant anybody the Ultimate Power. There should be no such thing.

      The exception is when the Silver Surfer drops by, since he has it anyway and you can't do anything about that, although Doctor Doom, Lord of Latveria, has successfully stolen it one or more times.

      You mangled the quotation which should actually say "Absolute Power", which is a rather good radio and television comedy show, rather different in the two versions, but in each case with Stephen Fry and John Bird in (not The Big Issue one).

    4. jmch Silver badge

      Re: The ultimate authority

      "All civilisations seem to have someone who wields the ultimate power"

      And that is wrong. The Romans rightly recognised that "Power corrupts, and Ultimate Power corrupts absolutely", which is why they designed their Republic with 2 bosses, each of whom could veto the other. The founders of the US build checks and balances in the US constitution, it's only recently (and coinciding with increased partisanship and winner-takes-all politics) that the legislative branch (both houses of congress) have effectively abdicated most of their power to the President.

      The President's power should be actively curbed from overreach by Congress. But congressional leaders have been happy to allow their 'own' president to overreach because it's easier than working a compromise through both houses. It started with Bush 2 going to war in Iraq without a declaration of war (that legally should have been voted for in congress), through Obama who continued Bush's excessive use of executive orders to effectively create new laws when they couldn't push laws they wanted through congress, and now we end up with Trump who believes the presidency gives him dictatorial powers. And the Senate is still backing him because politics is now seen as 'us vs them', and it doesn't matter how bad Trump behaves, Republicans in congress back him to the hilt even while he is trampling all over their constitutional authority.

      And US congress is itself completely dysfunctional as it isn't possible to get any serious legislation through because congressmen and senators are too worried about image and reelection to compromise on anything that their most rabid supporters consider to be 'red lines'. And it's not just the US either

      1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

        Re: The ultimate authority

        After the recent strike in Iraq, I did a bit if history diving on the subject. Turns out that there is a history of authorization of force resolutions going back to president John Adams that stopped short of actually declaring war. Which I found shocking.

        The 9/12 resolution was in this vein. Moreover, then senate leader Tom Daschle (D) held a press conference immediately afterwards (on the steps of the Senate building) flanked by leaders of both parties, and stated, "This is a declaration of war."

        The resolution was horrible policy, in that it gave the president the sole authority to conclude that a party had been involved with the planning or execution of the 9/11 attack, but congress DID authorize it.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: The ultimate authority

        " have effectively abdicated most of their power to the President."

        Not really and kinda. It's complicated. Because both houses of Congress would rather divide up into two sides and fire salvos at each other than to do their jobs, a steady succession of Presidents have been able to get away with unilateral edicts that they should not have been able to implement. If there were less inter party bickering and more concentration on guiding (I hate to say "running") the country, the concept of Checks and Balances would work the way it was envisioned.

        In many first world countries, it's nearly possible to see the sponsor's logos on politicians' jackets.

        It's a bit cheeky for a US politician to complain about corporations avoiding taxes (legally) when those same politicians are responsible for writing the tax laws (and more numerous loopholes).

    5. JoeCool Bronze badge

      The ultimate authority

      "But what is the alternative?"

      Democracy, obviously.

      Meaning specifically that

      - the law in this case is seen for the fact that it terminates free speach and a free press.

      - that a free press is seen as the foundational requirement of a Democracy.

      - that the citizens in that democracy are prepared to fight for it.

      1. cream wobbly

        Re: The ultimate authority

        Democracy, obviously.

        We tried that. But Athens only practised it for a few decades before collapsing.

        So... "Communism, obviously" then?

        Same story. Every time someone tries it, you get some pudgy kid in charge spoiling it for everyone else.

        Our best bet is a broken, yet resilient system; by which I mean something that is self-correcting. We've yet to discover what that is, but despite the current look of the thing, the American experiment of three bodies of government isn't faring too badly, even with Russian mobsters running rampant.

  2. jason_derp

    It's legal

    And honestly, most American politicians would have no issue doing it even if it wasn't, and their political pundits would no doubt support their decision via radio, television, or whatever communications platform for geriatrics they themselves own and use, and therefore choose to leave operational. It's not exactly humdrum, but it's not really a shock to the system either.

    It's clear that American politicians are very willing to do what they want regardless of the law, and honestly, many opinion polls show that their citizens are fine with it. Shutting down the Internet and throwing the economy and political landscape into chaos might be one of the most reassuring possibilities because at least it's foreseeable and plausible.

    1. Snake Silver badge

      Re: It's legal

      Can that comment be pinned at the top as absolutely most-relevant??

    2. Chris G

      Re: It's legal

      Aside from the fact that most politicians have the will to prosecute acts like the complete shut down of public communications.

      Trump has set precedents for future presidents that are likely to be taken up by them, he is not only creating an unpleasant present but screwing the future too.

      1. ICL1900-G3

        Re: It's legal

        You can't help but wonder about the dicks that downvoted this.

    3. Tigra 07

      Re: It's legal

      "Shutting down the Internet and throwing the economy and political landscape into chaos"

      In the event of war, the economy and political landscape will be in chaos anyway. Taking out internet access too is the icing on the cake. Not saying i agree with it, but the UK probably has the same capabilities. The riots in 2010 showed that the Gov could at least interfere with phone networks and limit Whatsapp availability.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: It's legal

        It isn't just 'in time of war' it's for 'national security' - the president has already put tariffs on steel from Canada for 'national security'

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: It's legal

        "In the event of war"? The US has been at war since Congress passed the AUMF in September 2001.

    4. Carpet Deal 'em

      Re: It's legal

      A lot of people are fine with it in theory, but I'd wager that's because most don't actually understand the implications. If the kill switch were ever actually thrown, lots of those who previously supported it will have a rather sudden change of heart.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: It's legal

        Depends what you kill.

        If it only cut off the Washington Post and New York Times the Whitehouse might not be too bothered

      2. jason_derp

        Re: It's legal

        "A lot of people are fine with it in theory, but I'd wager that's because most don't actually understand the implications. If the kill switch were ever actually thrown, lots of those who previously supported it will have a rather sudden change of heart."

        I'd argue that when it comes to things like internet access, middle-America and much of the south, especiallly the lower-income locations of those general places, wouldn't even notice. Those communities are woefully underserved and systemically abused and exploited by American telcoms anyways (MORESO than everyone else, somehow), and seeing as how most maps showing current execuitve support overalp almost perfectly with the (lack) of access to internet maps, I doubt the "in theory" part is worth too much examination. It's not like they'd lose much as individuals anyways, and the sub-intl. level businesses that might complain don't funnel enough money into election campagins to bother listening to. The people who wouldn't be okay with flipping the switch afterwards would likely be the same people who were'nt okay with flipping it before.

    5. Sherrie Ludwig

      Re: It's legal

      @Jason Derp

      I hate that you're right. But, you are.

  3. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

    But what about the children?

    Not going to happen.

    If Trump shuts down the US communications, how can he Tweet ... oh, wait.

    1. Shadow Systems

      Re: But what about the children?

      Exactly. If he shuts down our internet then nobody will be able to read his Tweets & he would explode if he couldn't verbally vomit all over the nation.

      Besides, if he *did* shut down our internet then what do you think his chances will be to survive the storming of the castle as the angry mob of internet addicts howls for his head? Even if his Secret Service (*cough*SS*cough*) troops resort to full auto machine gun firing into the army of civillians, eventually they'll run out of ammo - they have to get it right every single time whereas the mob only needs get it right once.

      His political ass kissers might think he walks on water, but if he cuts off our internet then we'll just burn the witch...

      1. oiseau

        Re: But what about the children?


        ... we'll just burn the witch ...

        Think so?

        He'll take the sole mention of it as an act of war and send a drone for you.


      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: But what about the children?

        I think you misunderstand the nature of most internet users - they will bitch and moan and hurl abuse from the safety of their armchair but to actually get of their lardy arse and do something... nah, lets just watch another series of Real Housewives of Buttfuck Indiana

        1. Teiwaz

          Re: But what about the children?

          but to actually get of their lardy arse and do something...

          And if youtube goes dark andall on demand streaming...

          You think they'll shrug and pick up a Book???

          They say every society is three meals from revolution...

          What would that be in hours of no video playlist.....?

          I think the enquiry would return a verdict of death by a mob of the bored, the annoyed and the desperate for any entertainment.

  4. Mark 85
    Big Brother

    So in theory, the President has the power to shut down just portions of the countries internet up to and including the whole thing. Am I reading that right? Which means that if he's really angry with say, California, then he could shut down that state's access. Maybe we shouldn't be giving him ideas like that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Shutting down California's Internet

      Is a sure fire way for them to leave the Union and become the 4th/5th largest economy on their own.

      Big Brother Trump might be insane but he's not so far up his own backside not to recognise the folly of doing that.

      OTOH... that's one load of Democratic Electorial College votes that won't get in the way of him becoming President for Life just like his pal Putin.

      Meanwhile this Grumpy has more important things to do like fixing a leak in a water pipe.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Shutting down California's Internet

        Is a sure fire way for them to leave the Union

        That's been tried. It didn't go well for anyone.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      The President has the power to "suspend or amend ... regulations" regarding any "stations or devices capable of emitting electromagnetic radiations [sic]".

      Name a "device" that doesn't emit electromagnetic radiation. I emit electromagnetic radiation, and so presumably do you, as any fule with an infrared camera kno.

      47 USC 606 is so poorly worded that, interpreted literally, it gives the President power to suspend or amend any regulations regarding any physical object. Presumably the courts would limit it to something more reasonable, given the chance. But there's the rub: at what point will the people who have physical control of said stations and devices decide to refuse such suspension or amendment?

      I assume the bigger telecoms firms wouldn't take such executive fiat lying down, and would almost certainly be able to get restraining orders from judges within minutes of some Trumpian declaration. But things could certainly become very messy.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounds like a good reason to install Huawei gear, that way when he tries to turn it all off, he just gets back "Computer says NO"


    Presumably any satellite internet provider not US based will continue to work regardless.

    1. Richard 51

      Except, its not just US based. As so much of the internet traffic around the world is routed via the US it would have a material and detrimental impact on Europe and Asia. Either services we rely on are behind US routers or the impact of the US going offline would grind our networks to a halt.

      So its in all our interests to remove the ability of this and future baboons in office to shut down our global resource called the internet.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Blame Trump when you are locked out of your home

        Because your 'ring' doorlock can't approve you as an authorised resident of No 23 Acacia Avenue, Surbiton due to the lack of a connection to the Amazon Big Brother Servers in the USofA.

  6. FrankAlphaXII

    Sounds like typical CoG/ECG stuff to me, and that should scare you

    Continuity of Government's something I know real well, working in the emergency management field. There's some really terrifying shit in the CEFR (Code of Emergency Federal Regulations) and the (mostly) classified annexes to NSPD-51, Enduring Constitutional Government and others scattered throughout the various executive orders, CFR and USC. I'll leave you with this, and I'll say they don't make em like Senator Frank Church anymore:

    "The President has the power to seize property, organize and control the means of production, seize commodities, assign military forces abroad, call reserve forces amounting to 2 1/2 million men to duty, institute martial law, seize and control all menas of transportation, regulate all private enterprise, restrict travel, and in a plethora of particular ways, control the lives of all Americans...

    Most [of these laws] remain a a potential source of virtually unlimited power for a President should he choose to activate them. It is possible that some future President could exercise this vast authority in an attempt to place the United States under authoritarian rule.

    While the danger of a dictatorship arising through legal means may seem remote to us today, recent history records Hitler seizing control through the use of the emergency powers provisions contained in the laws of the Weimar Republic."

    --Joint Statement, Sens. Frank Church (D-ID) and Charles McMathias (R-MD) September 30, 1973

    1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

      Re: Sounds like typical CoG/ECG stuff to me, and that should scare you

      I cannot say that I am a particular fan of Senator Church, or especially of some of the reforms of the intelligence community that were put through on his watch.

      The final paragraph demonstrates a lack of understanding regarding what the millions of persons mentioned would do when faced with orders directly violating their oaths of service. After all, "just following orders" was an issue ALSO deal with in "recent history."

      But that doesn't mean that he was wrong with the rest of what he is saying.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Sounds like typical CoG/ECG stuff to me, and that should scare you

        Your objection relies on a concerted effort by the military and intelligence communities to violate the instructions of their commander and enforce democracy. That's possible, sure, but you have offered no evidence as to why they'd choose to do that. Keep in mind that the refusal to take drastic action must be concerted, as if a few sectors refuse to carry out orders, they can be arrested and executed by the rest who do. Also keep in mind that, in a situation of genuine chaos, it can be hard to know which restrictions are useful and which restrictions are merely a step on the road to authoritarianism.

        Who really knows what would happen in such a situation? And honestly, that's not a good enough basis for me to be certain that nothing bad will happen. It would be better if we could take the time while we are relatively calm to make it very difficult for abuses of power, especially such extreme ones, to happen.

        1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

          Re: Sounds like typical CoG/ECG stuff to me, and that should scare you

          During Basic Training, we were taught to disobey illegal orders. That actually covers a LOT of ground. When I said "millions", I'm not talking about the officer corps. I'm talking about the enlisted who would have to carry out such orders.

          Certainly, the response will not be uniform. But once one man breaks ranks, his buddies are now faced with carrying out immoral orders AND taking out their buddy. Repressive regimes have fallen when the cops & soldiers join the protesters, and this in countries with much weaker traditions of limited government.

          But in an actual situation of general chaos, you actually DO want this stuff implemented. That is, after all, the justification for the regs in the first place. The concern is that some enterprising individual (who for some reason, always holds political views abhorant to my own) might either attempt to use these powers when it is not justified.

          My complaint is that he's bumping into Godwin's law when he knows we have specific safeguards put in place to avoid that sort of thing.

  7. Dr Paul Taylor

    Rest of the World

    "Fog in Channel -- Continent cut off".

    The is a difference between shutting down Internet access in Iran, Egypt and Kashmir and doing so in the country that controls it.

    I said before that we need a European Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

    Looks like we need a European Internet root node too. (Someone better informed may tell me that already exists.)

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Controlling the internet has been going on for years. If only they had the threat of a global pandemic to enact the next stage and I'm running low on tin foil.

  9. Joe Harrison

    Very poor story

    I don't read The Register for political comment. The author managed to take a valid and important issue and turn it into a rant against a political party he clearly opposes. This is a longstanding issue in US legislation and the (currently) Republican ownership of the presidency has no relevance. Must do better.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Very poor story

      Don't let the door hit you in the arse on your way out then...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Very poor story

      This post reflects the sad state of discourse in the US at present. Anything done by a member of one party that is criticised will bring out pitchforks from supporters of the other party.


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Very poor story

        Don't automatically assign political labels to anyone based on a singular opinion statement. THAT is "the sad state of discourse" -- that any opinion has to be placed on the political spectrum and can't be objectively assessed of its own merit but is subjected to automatic bias.

        Just because I agree with Joe's opinion doesn't automatically make either of us supporters of *any* given party.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Very poor story

      I thought it was fair, you have a president that wants everyone to read every tweet about his bowel movements so he is the most likely president to abuse these powers. Covfefe.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Very poor story

        Hey, 15 flushes is normal! (yeah, not quite)

    4. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

      Re: Very poor story

      Nowhere does Kieren mention the Republican party; his focus is on Trump the person. It is therefore revealing to see how you immediately conflate the two: the Republicans have become the part of Trump, supporting his unhinged lunacy and overt corruption, and acting as his cult of personality. I challenge you to identify one incorrect statement in Kieren's commentary.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Very poor story

        "As been made abundantly clear, the current President is not only willing to do things that previous presidents would never have considered, he appears to actively seek out opportunities to use the power of his office to strengthen his own power and chances of re-election."

        "If the polls swing against Donald Trump, if he feels his presidency is under threat, does anyone seriously imagine that he wouldn’t do anything and everything within his power to retain his position?"

        There's two. Both are extremely biased and wrong. But you keep on having a great day there big guy!

        1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

          Re: Very poor story

          How are they wrong?

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Very poor story

          "Both are extremely biased and wrong."

          That's neither here nor there. Both statements are about Trump in particular and neither are about the Republican party as a whole. You don't seem to be able to separate the two concepts in your own mind and have supported your opponents argument in process..

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No Internet means

    Major businesses suspension/ slowdown. There will be no email, no e-trading, no e-banking. Imagine people suddenly had to trade paper stocks today. If US tried it even once without warning today, you can bet the stock market would crash faster than trump could reload twitter.

  11. Mystic Megabyte

    News channel?

    Trump gave press credentials to these anti-Semitic morons, this "News channel" were at Davos.

    Under emergency powers Fox news will be the only TV channel allowed in the near future.

  12. tip pc Silver badge

    Is this site turning into the Guardian?

    "If the polls swing against Donald Trump, if he feels his presidency is under threat, does anyone seriously imagine that he wouldn’t do anything and everything within his power to retain his position?"

    that really is a bit much

    And people in the UK are worried about Huawei kit running in the fringes of 5G networks, If Trump orders the US tech giants offline it won't matter whose kit we run as we wont have anything to connect to

  13. tip pc Silver badge

    Its not Huawei we need to worry about

    And people in the UK are worried about Huawei kit running in 5G networks.

    If Trump orders the US tech giants offline it won't matter whose kit we run as we wont have anything to connect to. No Amazon, Google, Twitter, Facebook, Hotmail etc.

    The top internet sites are either US or Chinese, I can't read Chinese.

    1. Aladdin Sane

      Re: Its not Huawei we need to worry about

      Would that bring down Amazon as a whole or just the .com? I assume non-US based sites such as would continue, as would all non-US based AWS etc.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Its not Huawei we need to worry about

        It would certainly demonstrate just how much various Amazon so-called subsidiaries depend on the US mothership if the .com went dark, eg tracking links, telemetry etc.

  14. Chronos

    Never mind all this tot...

    Is that Seven of Nine in the background? It would explain a few things.

    One wonders what all the exported USian kit with NSA installed firmware mods will do in such a case of Arsenoise actually finding a small enough keyboard for his hands and shutting down Unimatrix Zero.

    Huawei? Pah. Amateurs. You will be assimilated. Your technological and biological distinctiveness will be added to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile.

    One also wonders if Boris knows more about IT and resilient networks than his mad, half toff half bloke all clown facade would suggest. He certainly seems to have the heterogeneous vendor mix right.

  15. scrubber

    Did Trump turn off your editor's internet?

    Obama had a kill list that included American citizens, but let's get in a panic about Orange Man being able to turn off social media.

    Kill. List.

    1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

      Re: Did Trump turn off your editor's internet?

      [citation needed]

      Whether the list exists or not, I doubt it belongs to the President personally but rather to various security organizations which report to the President. I don't see Obama going through a list of US citizens and saying "Bob Smith from Chicago? Yeah, fuck that guy; kill his ass if he gets out of line. He knows why." I can see Nixon or Trump doing that, mind you, but hopefully not most Presidents.

      1. scrubber

        Re: Did Trump turn off your editor's internet?


        He had a list of people, including US citizens, that he decided to allow his military and/or CIA go kill without any kind of due process.

        Look at his killing of Awlaki, and worse, his 16 year old son...

        1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Did Trump turn off your editor's internet?

          Props to you for supplying citations (reputable ones, even!) I completely agree that America's use of violence overseas is problematic. It's perhaps the signal triumph of Trump's presidency that he has managed to divert public attention away from such matters of substance (the kill list is now his responsibility) and onto his more superficial grotesqueries. I guess Obama's major failing (and the failing of previous presidents) was to be too serious and committed to promoting policy decisions (even terrible ones) as opposed to tweeting his need to flush repeatedly.

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Did Trump turn off your editor's internet?

        Much as I loathe Trump, I'm afraid that it's well known Obama and his administration expanded Presidential powers to include extrajudicial killing of US citizens, most famously via the (originally secret, leaked) DoJ memo "Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a U.S. Citizen Who Is a Senior Operational Leader of Al-Qa'ida or An Associated Force". This has been widely discussed; there's a good treatment in this Foreign Policy article from a couple weeks ago.

        For many on the US Left, this was one of the more disappointing aspects of the Obama presidency, but not especially surprising. Obama continued a series of presidents who showed little concern for civil rights.

    2. Jim Mitchell

      Re: Did Trump turn off your editor's internet?

      Lincoln also killed lots of, nominally, US citizens without much due process. Still got a big memorial with a nice statue.

      1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

        Re: Did Trump turn off your editor's internet?

        In fairness, they were vampires.

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Did Trump turn off your editor's internet?

        Oh, Lincoln did lots of bad things. (Native Americans generally don't have much good to say about him, for example.)

        But he had the advantages of 1) winning his war, 2) ending slavery, and 3) being martyred.

        The first meant his supporters got to write the history.

        Slavery was widely seen as an embarrassment, if not a moral outrage, by those whose economic welfare didn't depend on it; and it's likely that plenty in the North recognized that its economic inefficiency (relative to capitalism) was dragging down the economy of the South, and thus of the country as a whole.

        The third, of course, is generally an effective way to earn some popular adoration. It's one of the reasons why I, and I suspect many Democrat strategists, are just as glad that there isn't a chance in Hell that the Senate will convict Trump; in the eyes of his supporters, that would make him a martyr, and they'd be only too glad to support Pence or some other chosen successor. Awful as Trump is, I'd rather see him fizzle out than launch a dynasty.

  16. EnviableOne

    First Ammendment?

    Surely by cutting off the internet, thats a constitutional violation

    but with trunmps rampant loading of SCotUS and other courts, will it actually matter

  17. martinusher Silver badge

    ..and she still has a job?

    Dissent in Federal organizations tends to be dealt with 'with extreme prejudice' these days. Can't have people rocking the boat, they all have to toe the Partei line.

  18. Grikath

    There's just one problem with this scenario...

    All the examples used in the article are in nations that are, shall we say.... less than democratic.. with a well-established power block supported by obvious forces, amongst which the military elite. The U.S. , with all its' faults, is not like those nations, nor is it anywhere near into devolving to such a state. Nehemiah Scudder has not (yet) been born, and that particular piece of dystopia that Heinlein painted is almost impossible to come to pass in this day and age.

    And yes... any POTUS has a lot of very disturbing and downright dangerous options he or she can abuse, but afaik there are some pretty strict conditions set before those even come into play. Simply lifting out a single phrase from a law and claiming that is the whole of the law is...well.... stupid.

    The POTUS can't simply decide to launch a couple of nukes for shits and giggles, nor can any POTUS simply declare a national emergency, and shut down the Internet.

    Besides, why would Trump, in this case, ever want to shut down the internet in the US? The happy little echo chambers on Twatter, Crapbook and other places are a perfect diversion for the Shouty People, who would otherwise do their ranting and frothing somewhere less publicly, and be a lot harder to ferret out. And then there's the multitude that doesn't give an airborne turd about anything as long as their dinner is on time, the beer is cold, and they can watch/download whatever they want to see on screen tonight.

    Shut that down,and people will suddenly start paying attention to what's going on around them, and that can't possibly be the effect you're looking for if you're out to maintain your status quo.

    The whole argument that a provision meant for a national crisis can by used willy-nilly is ... less than well thought out.

    1. ter63

      Re: There's just one problem with this scenario...

      Totally agree and I had exactly the same thought. If the author is honestly worried that Trump can invoke any of the executive powers whenever he personally feels like it then he needs to get started building his bunker straight away.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: There's just one problem with this scenario...

      nor can any POTUS simply declare a national emergency

      No need. We're in a state of emergency already. We're in 30 of them. We've been in a state of emergency since 1979.

      Frankly, your whole post smacks of "it can't happen here". While I'd certainly like to believe that's true - and I for one have viewed all the predictions of doom since 2016 with a jaundiced eye, even while acknowledging Trump's many vile deeds - I also remember how every failed state has had no shortage of people explaining why their country could never devolve into autocracy.

      My suspicion is that Trump's handlers have enough control over him to keep him from doing anything that might upset the Wall Street applecart. The Mercers, for example, presumably enjoy the bull market and want at least the pretense of constitutional government to continue. And Trump's quite comfortable right now with the Senate and SCOTUS on his side. But I'm not ruling out an attempt to assert excessive power, if only because I don't think he's rational.

  19. Donn Bly

    Trump Derangement Syndrome

    If the polls swing against Donald Trump, if he feels his presidency is under threat, does anyone seriously imagine that he wouldn’t do anything and everything within his power to retain his position?

    The only people who think that a US President is going to shut down the Internet for the entire country just because he doesn't like the polls, and that use a statement made as an answer from a question about a hypothetical situation where the US is at war, are both illiterate and deranged.

    The US routinely shuts down communications in when it feels it has the need, and the practice long pre-dates this president. For example, after the world trade center was attacked the government shut down the cell towers in that area.

    The Register and Kieren McCarthy are right to report about FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel's keynote speech and the issues it raises, but much of this article EDITORIAL reads as though it was written by a left-wing propagandist and makes affirmative statements which have no basis in fact.

    I get the Kieren doesn't like Trump. I don't like Trump either, but the Register can do much better than this.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      "the Register can do much better than this"

      You mean publish opinions you agree with. It's a comment piece, with some reporting. There are plenty of other stories to read if you don't like or agree with this one.


      1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

        Re: "the Register can do much better than this"

        That's a cop out. Kieren manages an anti-Republican (currently anti-Trump) slam in every article that she writes. There is a very legitimate issue regarding extraordinary powers of the president, but by turning the article into a stream of partisan invective surrounding a couple of facts, she makes this nothing more than a diatribe against a president and the associate party.

        Taking as serious a matter as extraordinary powers and using it as nothing more than a club to beat an opponent leaves the strong impression that the issue is not the issue at all.

        1. Donn Bly

          Re: "the Register can do much better than this"

          FYI, it's "He" -- or at least he refers to himself as such and that's good enough for me. Keiren has great credentials and has written and done a lot, but this article was definitely NOT one of his best. He can do better (and often does).

      2. Donn Bly

        Re: "the Register can do much better than this"

        It isn't a matter of whether or not I agree with the conclusions of the editorial writer, it is the blatant disregard of facts, inventing of your own "alternative" facts, and reporting it as truth with which I disagree - and now you defending of the falsehoods. This is published "Data Centre", not "Boot Notes".

        The Register can do better. The fact that you don't seem to think so makes me wonder whether you are fit for the position or have had a bit too much to drink before posting.

  20. David 45


    For goodness' sake - don't go putting even MORE crackpot ideas into that brainless orange head!

  21. Dinsdale247

    Balance anyone?

    If the author had so much as even attempted a balanced article I might listen, but this is just left wing porn.

  22. Claverhouse Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Inner Derangement

    Had Trump any indication he might do this, or even knew he had this power --- obviously no president ever would know of all the random powers accruing --- there might be some excuse for this histrionic raving scream against him.

    As it is, it amounts to:

    'Any American president has the power to go mental and suddenly kill people with a kitchen knife: OH MY FUCKING GOD, TRUMP'S GONNA KILL US ALL WITH A KITCHEN KNIFE !'

  23. ter63

    Never thought I'd see the old reg succumbing to TDS. I'd love to believe it's tongue-in-cheek but sadly I think not. If you really believe this then you need to grow up and figure out how the real world works. If you know it's rubbish and are just trying to capitalise on anti-Trump rhetoric then you need to understand how this stuff just wins him more supporters.

  24. Wzrd1 Silver badge

    Oddly, there is no Congressional declaration of war.

    I'll not bother discussing Trump's claims, that would seriously land me purely within the lands of insanity defense, while refuting insanity and honestly, it's not an insanity defense, it's Imperial defense.

    Oddly, utilizing overall, the Chewbacca defense.

    As a US citizen, knowing equality, either extortion is legal and thousands are released from prison or POTUS need to enjoy a prison.

  25. Colin Bain
    IT Angle


    Ironically this will not actually be used by Trump, but my sense of political history makes me think it would be Democratic President that will end up doing this. After all it was a Democratic President who took out an enemy of the state, Osama bin Ladin. Despite all the hoo hah about Bush et al removing democratic systems post 911.

    You heard it first here folks!

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