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In recent months citizens of the Middle East and North Africa have experienced widespread shutdowns of internet access, coinciding with revolutions to overthrow national leadership. The seeming ease with which the internet has been silenced in Libya, Egypt, and other countries has raised questions about ethical issues behind an internet "Kill Switch", the idea of a single point of access by which any nation's leadership could shutdown their internet access.

In the United States, debate over so-called "Kill Switch" legislation has focused on the free speech aspect. If it were technologically possible to shutdown internet access singlehandedly who is to say that power wouldn't be exploited as it has been abroad?

But on the other side of the coin is the question of cyber security. With so

In recent months citizens of the Middle East and North Africa have experienced widespread shutdowns of internet access, coinciding with revolutions to overthrow national leadership. The seeming ease with which the internet has been silenced in Libya, Egypt, and other countries has raised questions about ethical issues behind an internet "Kill Switch", the idea of a single point of access by which any nation's leadership could shutdown their internet access.

In the United States, debate over so-called "Kill Switch" legislation has focused on the free speech aspect. If it were technologically possible to shutdown internet access singlehandedly who is to say that power wouldn't be exploited as it has been abroad?

But on the other side of the coin is the question of cyber security. With so much commerce, communication, and security dependent on a loose and non-standardized network infrastructure, it could actually make sense to have an easy way to quarantine a bug or massive cyber attack.

Today, hosts Lawrence Lessig and Jonathan Zittrain are joined by Andrew McLaughlin a former Berkman Fellow and White House Deputy Chief Technology Office and Brett Solomon Executive Director of Access, a global movement promoting digital freedom. Together with an audience Lessig and Zittrain take on the Kill Switch.

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Lawrence Lessig is the Director of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics at Harvard University, and a Professor of Law at Harvard Law School.

Jonathan Zittrain is a Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, a co-founder of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society and served as its first executive director from 1997-2000.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.

Source: Berkman Center