The severed cables belonged to backbone-internet companies Level 3 and Zayo. In order to access these cables, the vandals had to remove manholes and enter underground vaults. While the cut lines were fixed within a day, it does highlight how easy it is to disrupt the internet within the physical world. In a statement, the FBI asked for the public to contact it if anyone saw anything suspicious at one of the sites and added that, “the individuals may appear to be normal telecommunications maintenance workers or possess tools consistent with that job role.”
So instead of the internet being brought down by a virus or super hackers, it turns out that someone with a set of bolt cutters could severely disrupt how we get our news and do business.
I could not have said it any better. Malware is not required to disrupt our precious internets.
But the latest leak has revealed more. The agreement would also prohibit countries from enacting free and open source software mandates. Although “software used for critical infrastructure” is already carved out from this prohibition (and so is software that is not “mass market software”, whatever that means), there are other circumstances in which a country might legitimately require suppliers to disclose their source code.
For example, one step that might be considered to improve the dire state of security of consumer routers might be to require that they be supplied with source code, so that their security could be more broadly reviewed, and third parties could contribute patches for critical vulnerabilities. Although that may sound radical, this is already required for many routers because they are based on software covered by the GNU General Public License. TISA would prohibit any such national initiative.
As in the TPP, and expanding on the earlier leaked draft, TISA also includes a prohibition on laws that require service providers to host data locally, which some countries have used to protect sensitive personal information, such as health data, from being snooped upon on foreign soil. There are arguments for and against such laws, and it is inappropriate that a secretive international agreement such as TISA should preempt these important debates.
The agreement would also require countries to introduce anti-spam laws. Although spam is bad, that doesn’t necessarily make anti-spam laws good. In practice such laws have generally been ineffective at best, and ripe for abuse at worst. As such, we believe that it would be a legitimate choice for a country to decide not to tackle this blight through legislation—a choice that TISA would remove from them.
When is the government going to learn that such treaties and agreements are not going to do a damn thing to stop the very actions the member countries are attempting to control?