New Bill Aims to Rein In the President’s Power to Order Internet Blackouts

Two members of Congress have introduced legislation that would prevent the president from taking action to restrict the U.S. public’s access to the internet, the Preventing Unwarranted Communications Shutdowns Act (PUCSA).



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© Photo: Karen Bleier (Getty Images)


In an announcement, Representatives Anna Eshoo, a California Democrat, and Virginia Republican Morgan Griffith wrote that while they are aware the internet cannot be “shut down” due to its decentralized nature, the president can nonetheless take action to effectively cut off most Americans from the internet under §706(d) of the Communications Act of 1934. That act authorizes the president to override all rules and regulations pertaining to facilities or stations involved in wire or radio communications, cause their closure and “removal therefrom of its apparatus and equipment,” or simply take them over.

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As the Brookings Institute noted, the president simply needs to declare a national emergency to invoke that authority. While

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