Yesterday, I wrote an article about three bad tech-related proposals for fighting Islamic State that have popped up ever since the horrific terrorist attack in Paris last month. I should have known, however, that Donald Trump would outdo them all with the single stupidest and ill-considered proposal yet.
Per The Daily Dot, Trump said during a speech on Monday identified the Internet as a main threat in helping spread ISIS propaganda and inspiring potential “lone wolf” terrorist attacks against American citizens. While there’s certainly something to be said for disrupting ISIS’s ability to recruit and incite violence on the web, Trump’s proposal was… well, it was special. Here’s the quote:
We’re losing a lot of people because of the Internet. We have to see Bill Gates and a lot of different people who really understand what’s happening and maybe, in some ways, closing that Internet up in some ways. Somebody will say, ‘Oh, freedom of speech, freedom of speech.’ These are foolish people, we have a lot of foolish people. We’ve got to maybe do something with the Internet because they’re recruiting by the thousands, they’re leaving our country, and then when they come back, we take them back.
As if it were all just so simple as talking to Bill Gates and having him close the Internet! Why haven’t the dummies and losers in Washington ever thought of that before! Gates is just waiting in his underground cave for the order to throw the switch that shuts off the Internet, and our cowardly leaders haven’t thought to call him yet!
In all seriousness, I would like to give Trump the benefit of the doubt and believe that he was just inarticulately musing on ways to disrupt ISIS’s online propaganda operations and not actually proposing shutting down the Internet.
To hear a more articulate version of this policy, consider Hillary Clinton recently implored Silicon Valley’s biggest companies to help “disrupt” ISIS by taking away their online spaces to propagandize and recruit. She even justified this policy with a disturbingly cavalier attitude toward the implications of online censorship.
“You are going to hear all the familiar complaints: ‘freedom of speech,'” she said in predicting the reaction to her proposals.
All of this points to the real danger of Trump: His completely outrageous proposals make merely bad proposals of the sort laid out by Hillary Clinton, Ben Carson and other candidates look reasonable by comparison.