Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Tweets Prove Internet Kill Switch Attack On Free Speech

As I write this, a major (8.9) quake has hit Japan, killing many there and causing tsunami warnings all over the Pacific. My deepest condolences for this horrible tragedy, and I hope that those trapped are found swiftly, possibly even with the help of Twitter.

As soon as the quake hit, the first wave of information regarding the quake hit the rest of the world via Twitter. That’s right folks: it wasn’t CNN, MSNBC or Fox News: word of this earthquake and tsunami spread first through individuals on the ground in Japan, experiencing the quake personally.

It was basically crowdsourced news. The first tweets hit twitter just as it happened, and within a half hour, it was a top trending term. There was an emergency somewhere in the world, and the first route to information is the internet.

Now imagine Barack Obama sitting in the Oval Office with a big internet kill switch on his desk. Pressing this button would basically shut down the internet: no one would be able to reach any website or service, Facebook, Google, Twitter would all be dead. Now why would Obama ever have a need to kill all internet communications in the event of an emergency?

I mean, during a crisis, we depend more than ever on the internet and services like Twitter, which also use SMS, to get the news regarding the crisis, and how it might affect us. Trapped victims can also use Twitter to report on thier location – loved ones can use Twitter to tell their friends and families that they are OK.

Unless, of course, the emergency were one of suppressing our inviolable right to speak, as encoded in the Constitution. It makes no sense to “kill” the internet, unless its spreading a message the government does not want you to hear.