The Homeland Security Authorities in the United States Of America have on record something called Standard Operating Procedure 303, more commonly known as SOP 303. Whereas not many are aware of it, if activated everyone in the United States and most around the world would know of it as it would shut down all Wi-Fi networks within North America.
SOP 303 was discovered to be in place by the Electronic Privacy Information Centre (EPIC) during a routine investigation to see what measures were in place to try and prevent the remote detonation of bombs within America. They were alarmed at the discovery of Homeland Security’s apparent ability to effectively shut down the internet in America, and concerns grew when Homeland Security refused to disclose any further information about the procedure.
EPIC, backed by several civil liberties and human rights group who shared the concern around the Government being able to shut down the internet at will, pursued legal channels to force Homeland Security to reveal the details of Sop 303. For the moment they appear to have achieved this, as a Federal Judge in the District of Columbia has ordered the US Government to reveal the details.
The Court found that SOP 303 fell outside of the accepted methods for law enforcement investigations and prosecutions, thus there were no grounds to keep the details classified as secret. It is highly likely that Homeland Security will appeal the decision, as their view is that it is essential to keep the details secret in the interests of national security and the protection of citizens.
Whilst neither EPIC nor any other group within the US would want national security secrets revealed, clarity is wanted on exactly when Homeland Security would feel the need to enact SOP 303. The concern is that without it being made clear what does and does not constitute a viable threat to national security, the US Government is free to enforce SOP 303 as and when it chooses, leaving US citizens in the dark and very much disconnected.