The US Government Has an Internet Killswitch — and the Supreme Court Says It’s None of Your Business

Written by on January 14, 2016 in Agencies & Systems, Government, Policies with 8 Comments


By Derrick Broze | The Anti Media

(ANTIMEDIA) United States — On Monday the Supreme Court declined to hear a petition from the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) that sought to force the Department of Homeland Security to release details of a secret “killswitch” protocol to shut down cellphone and internet service during emergencies.

EPIC has been fighting since 2011 to release the details of the program, which is known as Standard Operating Procedure 303. EPIC writes, “On March 9, 2006, the National Communications System (‘NCS’) approved SOP 303, however it was never released to the public. This secret document codifies a ‘shutdown and restoration process for use by commercial and private wireless networks during national crisis.’”

Related Article: These 3 Judges Hold the Fate Of The Internet In Their Hands

EPIC continues, “In a 2006-2007 Report, the President’s National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (‘NSTAC’) indicated that SOP 303 would be implemented under the coordination of the National Coordinating Center (‘NCC’) of the NSTAC, while the decision to shut down service would be made by state Homeland Security Advisors or individuals at DHS. The report indicates that NCC will determine if a shutdown is necessary based on a ‘series of questions.’”

Despite EPIC’s defeat at the hands of the Supreme Court, the four-year court battle yielded a heavily redacted copy of Standard Operating Procedure 303.

The fight for transparency regarding SOP 303 began shortly after a Bay Area Rapid Transit (“BART”) officer in San Francisco shot and killed a homeless man named Charles Hill on July 3, 2011. The shooting sparked massive protests against BART throughout July and August 2011. During one of these protests, BART officials cut off cell phone service inside four transit stations for three hours. This kept anyone on the station platform from sending or receiving phone calls, messages, or other data.

In July 2012, EPIC submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the DHS seeking the full text of Standard Operating Procedure 303; the full text of the predetermined “series of questions” that determines if a shutdown is necessary; and any executing protocols related to the implementation of Standard Operating Procedure 303, distributed to DHS, other federal agencies, or private companies.

After the DHS fought the FOIA releases, a district court in Washington, D.C. ruled in EPIC’s favor, but that ruling was later overturned by the court of appeals. The appeals court told EPIC the government was free to withhold details of the plan under the Freedom of Information Act because the information might “endanger” the public.  In 2015, the digital rights group asked the Supreme Court to review the ruling by the federal appeals court.

Related Article: FBI Seeks Backdoors in New Technology (Project Censored #20)

With the Supreme Court’s refusal to address EPIC’s petition, the issue seems to have reached a dead-end. The American people are (once again) left in the dark regarding the inner-workings of another dangerous and intrusive government program. It is only through the hard work of activists and groups like EPIC that we are at least aware of the existence of this program — but knowing bits and pieces about the protocol is not enough. In order to combat such heavy-handed measures, we need to have access to the government’s own documents. Hopefully, there is already a whistleblower preparing to release these details.

What we do with the information we do have is up to each of us as individuals. We can sit back and watch the United States further devolve into a militarized police and surveillance state — or we can spread this information, get involved locally, and create new systems outside of the current paradigm of control and exploitation.

Related Article: ‘Minority Report’ Police State is Already Happening – Way Ahead of Schedule

This article (The US Government Has an Internet Killswitch — and It’s None of Your Business) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Derrick Broze Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. Image credit: Tmthetom. If you spot a typo, email

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8 Reader Comments

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  1.' John Bevegård says:

    hej bra tackgrattis johnnyb.

  2.' Patricia Moncada says:

    Big brother is watching!

  3.' says:

    Thanks for the info :p

  4.' Mark Treat says:

    It means the darknet becomes internet.

    We The People live free, despite the NWO.

  5.' Jacqui Bonnel says:

    We are not a democracy people….
    We are a constitutional republic…
    Obama, democrats republicans…..
    There are 545 people that actually run our government…those people are directly responsible for ALL laws, not us not Obama not one party…
    If there is division within our country it is because they want it..
    If we are at war it’s because they want it..
    If we are face with unemployment it’s because they want it…
    If young black males are treated poorly…it’s because they want it…
    If we run out of federal benefit (what we used to call social security) it’s because they want it…
    If our earth is dying from our waste products it’s because they want it..
    If the USA is losing its middle class, it’s because they want it…
    Any “issues” present in our country it’s because they want it…
    Y’all think Obama did this wonderful job and McCain would of done a horrid job…
    Neither of which actually run our country, decide our laws (and who must follow those laws) and the punishments attached to those laws…
    They do….
    So while we all argue over rep vs dem….they sit back quietly voting to steal our federal benefit, deploy our young men to “conflicts” , as well as declare war, decide our (failing) budgets, allot our states money ( or not), dictate the guidelines for our emergency services – who what when where and for how long ( geez anyone see Detroit New Orleans recently? And those are the only ones I have seen)
    So while you praise or argue over Obama, the recent figure head that they use to distract us while they allow their own raises, take bribes, bargain away our values, make themselves immune from the laws they created, freely break those same laws, allow our corporations to pollute our common earth, sell out our farm land to pollute our water,


    If y’all really truly want your government to represent you and your ideals…
    Just stop fighting over what party is right and start calling your representatives your congress man/woman, your council members…
    There no term limits so their horrendous laws with those quiet deadly riders tuck away in them, their flawed policies, their corporate bribes never end regardless of the the recent figure head… (.gov) › elected-officials

    Look them up call write and generally pester them to follow the people’s wishes…
    It’s takes more than many thousands of calls email letters to force them to take actions


  6.' Terry Smith says:

    One of the best decisions the Court has ever taken.

  7.' Rachel Lisette says:

    Probably because some of the judges are part of it…

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