Can it happen here?
In the wake of the Egyptian government cutting off the country from the Internet, people are wondering if the same could happen in their country. While that’s a good question, the more interesting question is “should” it happen.
In relation to New Zealand, it is possible for the government to cut our international Internet links. Maybe not 100% but enough that most Kiwis are practically isolated from the rest of the online world. At least for a while before Kiwi ingenuity and the global geek crowd jump in.
Source: Egypt leaves the Internet
The obvious way is physical or operational disruption of the Southern Cross cable though this would still leave satellite links open. Then there is the Egyptian way- leaning on Internet Service Providers. There are probably more ways.
(As an aside, so effective was the Egyptian cut off that one of the positive side effects is reduction of spam coming from Egyptian-based servers. And, to make a point but ironcially ineffectual, the US State Department tweeted its criticism.)
Preventing access to New Zealand websites from overseas is far more difficult and probably impossible. In any case, it is relatively easy to move content and hosting overseas.
Should this happen? Or, more accurately, are there circumstances that would justify such a move on part of the government?
I am unable to think of any combination of circumstances that makes this a sensible or even effective step. Extraordinary times could potentially require extraordinary responses but what could possibly justify or be achieved by cutting us off from the rest of the online world?
Any action on international links will probably be accompanied by disruption of communications within New Zealand.
All in all, an almost impossible scenario.
And no, the “Kill Switch” proposal in the USA is so removed from reality that it is not even worth thinking about.