Internet shutdown: Trump under fire

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MPs debate ban of Trump

Front runner Republican presidential contender, Donald Trump on Tuesday came under fire for calling for censoring the Internet to disrupt terrorists – comments he quickly clarified when rivals accused him of ignoring the U.S. Constitution.  In a recent statementTrump called for an Internet shutdown to prevent the Islamic State from recruiting online, after he was asked about recently making the proposal on the campaign trail. Trump said: ‘ISIS is using the internet better than we are using the internet and it was our idea,’ he said. ‘What I wanted to do is I wanted to get our brilliant people from Silicon Valley and other places and figure out a way that ISIS cannot do what they’re doing. You talk freedom of speech. You talk freedom of anything you want.’

Trump doesn’t understand how the internet works

For a man with such a remarkable social media presence, Trump appears to have literally no idea what the Internet is or how it works.

According to Time Magazine, in order to understand why Trump can’t “close off” the internet, it’s important to know how the internet works. Simply put, the internet is a complex combination of servers, routers and endpoint devices (like your computer or smartphone) that communicate with each other to transfer data from one location to another.“It’s designed to be that no single power could deny its use. That’s served the internet quite well because it’s allowed it to grow in unexpected ways.” Preventing ISIS operatives abroad from going online at all would be impossible — the group already controls Internet infrastructure in its territory; it has used this power to ban some citizens from getting online. Even if Trump somehow convinced a head of state to cut off their country’s Internet in the name of security, the move would overwhelmingly affect people unassociated with ISIS. “It would be a human rights catastrophe,” says Thomas Ristenpart, a computer science professor at Cornell University.

Trump should look at other options for solution

Alternative options should be sought by Trump. One of which could be to lobby companies like Facebook and Twitter to block posts from certain countries from appearing on the U.S. versions of their sites. However, such a move could make the United States’ online policies similar to those of China, where many foreign websites are banned outright. Ultimately, the idea of “closing off” the Internet is a technical and legal non-starter. Instead, Trump and other politicians are and will continue to pressure tech companies to be more vigilant in watching for specific threats.