Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) issued a warning Thursday about an obscure federal law, which seems to allow the president of the United States to shut down the internet with a “kill switch” rule, saying that he wants it repealed.
While speaking with Dr. Scott Atlas during a recent interview on Atlas’ “Independent Truths” podcast, Paul informed listeners about the outdated “emergency powers” rule, which includes the ability for a sitting president to turn off the internet.
“We’ve also looked at the emergency powers and emergency powers — you know the courts have said you don’t throw out the Constitution during emergencies — but a lot of our legislation acts as if you could throw things away,” the senator began.
“So when the CDC — and this actually happened some under the Trump administration — they decided that there was a CDC law for the 1930s that said you should do this and this for certain diseases, quarantine, and then it had a clause in there ‘and whatever else is necessary,’ the Trump Administration used that to say we didn’t have to pay our mortgages, and then the Biden administration continued that on,” Paul continued.
He then pointed out that it was highly unlikely that the policy had been passed with the expectation that such uses would be allowed.
“But this is a power that in no way was ever given to the CDC. No one ever anticipated the CDC would say you don’t have to pay your mortgage anymore, pay your rent or pay your car payment, that is crazy,” he said. “We also have another series of emergency powers, some of them have been on there, we’ve had like some emergencies have been going on 50 years, they’re still on the books,” he said.
Paul then discussed the most notable power, the “internet kill switch,” which is delineated under the Communications Act’s Section 706, according to TechCrunch.
“There’s actually an emergency power that was given to the FCC in the 1930s that gives the president the power to shut down all communications and control all communications in the US,” Paul continued. “People call it the internet kill switch. It’s never been used, but and it predates the Internet, but people now think in applying it to the Internet that a president has the power to shut down the Internet. Nobody should have this.”
Paul noted that he feels that no president should have this power, regardless of their party affiliation.
“Look, I was a supporter of Trump, he shouldn’t have it. I’m not a supporter of Biden, he definitely shouldn’t. No president of either party should have this kind of power,” he continued. “So, we should get rid of these emergency powers, and I’m a sponsor of a bill to get rid of them as well,” Paul said, pointing to his 2020 effort alongside former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) to eliminate the kill switch rule.
“The one good thing that happen happened, like in our state of Kentucky our governor used emergency power to close churches, restaurants, and all, etc, hotels, gyms, the court shut him down, but when the legislature finally came back into power they said his emergency Powers don’t last longer than 30 days,” he said.
“We should do the same in Washington, it should be an automatic expiration, and most people thought emergency powers were like delivering blankets and water in a tornado. I’m fine with that kind of emergency power,” Paul continued.
“But nobody ever thought you could close someone’s business down for years at a time uh during an emergency. And then, to make matters worse, most of the things they did didn’t work and weren’t good science,” he added. “Most of the mandates involved things that didn’t slow the spread of the disease and really were uh in error even just based on the science, not based on the freedoms that was lost, but just based on the science, most things they did were ineffective and wrongheaded.”
It’s worth noting that Paul isn’t the only member of Congress who wants to eliminate, or at very least limit, the president’s ability to shut down communications.
The Preventing Unwarranted Communications Shutdowns Act sponsored by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) would ensure that there are multiple layers of accountability before the president would be able to black out communications in an emergency.
The representatives aim to limit the use of Section 706’s powers to “imminent and specific threat to human life or national security” and “would limit the shutdown time frame to only 12 hours, would require a president to inform state government leaders — including opposing party leaders — and would cancel the use of the section for a single instance after 48 hours, unless renewed by a vote of three-fifths of Congress.”
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