Donald Trump has repeatedly brought up his vague intentions to “close” parts of the internet, an ambition that puzzles many experts and likely the man himself.
“Isis is recruiting through the internet. ISIS is using the internet better than we are using the internet and it was our idea,” Trump said during his fifth Republican debate. “I want to get the brilliant people from Silicon Valley and other places and figure out a way that ISIS can’t do what they’re doing.”
Wolf Blitzer was the moderator for that particular debate and attempted to get the now Republican Presidential Nominee to clarify on his intentions. “Are you open to closing parts of the internet?” Blitzer asked him.
“I would certainly be open to closing areas where we are at war with somebody,” Trump responded. ” I sure as hell don’t want to let people that want to kill us and kill our nation use our internet. Yes sir, I am.”
As vague and confusing as those comments are, Trump’s opinions about “closing the internet” managed to cross with those of another then-Presidential hopeful, Rand Paul. Paul accused Trump’s closing of the internet to be unconstitutional.
“I’m not talking about closing the internet,” Trump responded. “I’m talking about closing parts of the internet where ISIS is.”
What exactly Trump wants to do with what parts of the internet remains unclear, but that particular debate wasn’t the first time he has suggested that it might be a good idea. Earlier that month Trump said the following:
“We have to go see Bill Gates and a lot of different people that really understand what’s happening. We have to talk to them about, maybe in certain areas, closing the internet up in some way. Somebody will say, ‘Oh freedom of speech, freedom of speech.’ These are foolish people. We have a lot of foolish people.”
The chilling comment was, as always, received with deafening cheers and adoration by the kinds of Trump supporters who actually turn up at his rallies.
This week, Trump doubled down on his ambition to “turn of the internet” for terrorists:
“My administration will aggressively pursue joint and coalition military operations to crush and destroy ISIS, international cooperation to cut off their funding, expanded intelligence sharing, and cyberwarfare to disrupt and disable their propaganda and recruiting. We cannot allow the internet to be used as a recruiting tool, and for other purposes, by our enemy- we must shut down their access to this form of communication, and we must do so immediately.”
If Trump is truly serious about this ambition and his efforts to bring it to fruition are as ham-fisted as his grasp of the technology he is talking about, it’s likely that his administration would attempt to turn off internet access for entire groups of “suspicious” people, whether they’re terrorists or not. And since potentially being a terrorist is basically equivalent to being Muslim in the Trump narrative, this could pose some major humanitarian threats for a group of people that constitutes over 23% of the population.