(WATCH) Rand Paul Discusses Government Emergency Powers, Including ‘Internet Kill Switch’

Posted by on October 15, 2023 3:04 am

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) appeared on “Independent Truths with Dr. Scott Atlas” and discussed the U.S. government’s emergency powers.

Throughout history, our government has utilized (or manufactured) emergencies to justify impeding on the rights of the American people.

No ’emergency’ takes precedence over the U.S. Constitution.

Yet, we’ve allowed our government to get away with violating our rights countless times.

“The courts have said you don’t throw out the constitution during emergencies, but a lot of our legislation acts as if you can throw things away,” Paul said.

Paul referenced the CDC attempting to use a decades-old rule for managing diseases to tell people they didn’t have to pay their mortgages.

The Kentucky Republican noted some emergency powers have continued for many years.

“Some emergencies have been going on 50 years. They’re still on the books. There’s actually an emergency power that was given to the FCC in the 1930’s that gives the President the power to shut down all communications and control all communications in the U.S. People call it the internet kill switch,” Paul explained.

“It’s never been used but it predates the internet. People now think in applying it to the internet that a president has the power to shut down the internet,” he added.

“Nobody should have this. Look, I was a supporter of Trump. He shouldn’t have it. I’m not a supporter of Biden. He definitely shouldn’t have it. No president of either party should have this kind of power,” he continued.

“We should get rid of these emergency powers and I’m a sponsor of a bill to get rid of them as well,” he noted.


There has been an ongoing push to get rid of the ‘internet kill switch.’

Via Tech Crunch in 2020:

A pair of U.S. Representatives — one from each party — are proposing a law that would limit the president’s ability to shut down the internet at will. That may not strike you as an imminent threat, but federal police disappearing protestors into unmarked vans probably didn’t either, until a couple months ago. Let’s keep an open mind.

The president has the power under the Communications Act’s Section 706 to order the shutdown of some communications infrastructure in an emergency. While this was likely intended more for making sure official phone calls could get through in a national emergency, it’s possible that today it could be used as a measure to tamp down on protests and civil unrest, as we’ve seen in authoritarian regimes around the world.

The Preventing Unwarranted Communications Shutdowns Act, from Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA), doesn’t remove this ability, but adds several layers of accountability to it.

In the first place, the bill would limit Section 706 use to when there is an “imminent and specific threat to human life or national security.” This prevents it from being put into play when there is a more general “threat” such as a major protest that might be too much for local police to handle.

The bill would also require the president to inform the top layer of government officials, including opposition leaders, of any shutdown. Ideally before, but it could be up to 12 hours later (and is illegal if not by then). Any shutdown ends automatically after 48 hours unless three-fifths of Congress vote to continue it.

The U.S. government would also be obligated to compensate providers and customers for the monetary value of the shutdown’s impact. This could end up being quite expensive, depending on how it’s calculated.

Section 706 of the 1934 Communications Act states:

During the continuance of a war in which the United States is engaged, the President is authorized, if he finds it necessary for the national defense and security, to direct that such communications as in his judgment may be essential to the national defense and security shall have preference or priority with any carrier subject to this Act. He may give these directions at and for such times as he may determine, and may modify, change, suspend, or annul them and for any such purpose he is hereby authorized to issue orders directly, or through such person or persons as he designates for the purpose, or through the Commission. Any carrier complying with any such order or direction or preference or priority herein authorized shall be exempt from any and all provisions in existing law imposing civil or criminal penalties, obligations, or liabilities upon carriers by reason of giving preference or priority in compliance with such order or direction.

Watch the full interview with Rand Paul below: