Need To Shut Down Islamic Extremism on the Internet, But How?

Donald Trump is repeating calls for the U.S. and its allies to cut off internet access to the Islamic State group and other extremist organizations. Problem is, there isn't a way to do it.

Trump first made the demand during a debate in December. He said the government should work with "brilliant people" in Silicon Valley to keep violent extremists offline, even if that means shutting down parts of the internet.

But that's not possible from a technical standpoint. The U.S. can't turn off the internet in other parts of the world. And even if could, such a move would likely hurt more than potential attackers, and it would hinder the government's ability to keep tabs on them.

Here's a look at Trump's idea and why it won't work:

What Trump Said (This Time)

In Monday's speech, in which Trump also blamed Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama for the rise of the Islamic State and instability in the Middle East, Trump pledged to pursue military operations to "crush and destroy ISIS." He added that internet attacks and financial warfare will be essential in dismantling Islamic terrorism.

"We cannot allow the internet to be used as a recruiting tool, and for other purposes, by our enemy," Trump said. "We must shut down their access to this form of communication, and we must do so immediately."

The actions wouldn't be limited to the Islamic State. Trump also singled out Al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah as necessary targets.

First Obstacle: The Internet Itself

For one thing, the U.S. doesn't control the internet. No one does.

Because the internet is a global web of networks that are all owned by different governments, companies or individuals, no single entity has the ability to turn it off in parts of the world that it doesn't control. The only recourse is to destroy the electric grid...

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