Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is renewing his call to hit ISIS hard by “knocking the hell out” of the terror group’s Internet capabilities.
Trump told supporters at a rally in Mesa, Ariz. Wednesday that ” ISIS is using our Internet much better than our people,” which he said should alarm U.S. officials. “They are using the Internet so brilliantly.”
The GOP front-runner surprised his Republican rivals during Tuesday’s Republican debate when he suggested the idea of “closing” parts of the Internet as a way to reduce the Islamic State’s ability to recruit and raise funds online.
“I don’t want them using our Internet and taking our young impressionable youth,” he said. “These are not masterminds. We should be using our brilliant minds to figure out ways ISIS cannot use the Internet and then we should be able to penetrate the Internet and find out exactly where ISIS is.”
Ohio Gov. John Kasich blasted the idea, saying the focus should be more on law enforcement having the tools to know ways terrorists use encryption to hide their activities. “Congress needs to deal with this and so does the president to keep us safe.”
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul raised concerns over whether Trump’s idea is constitutional. “If you’re going to close the Internet, realize, America, what it entails – that entails getting rid of the first amendment, it’s no small feat.”
Experts, though, say Trump might have some legal backing to support his plan.
“There are a small handful of narrow and rare constitutional instances where the federal government may shut down communications over the Internet,” Seth Berenzweig, an attorney who specializes in constitutional law, told FoxNews.com.
“The feds can shut down someone’s Internet communications, such as taking down their server if they are for example publishing pro-ISIS callings to commit murder, or explaining how to construct a bomb to kill people … Trump has some law on his side for his argument, but these exceptions will be narrowly and strictly construed.”
Trump has suggested the federal government should partner with Silicon Valley to develop ways to counteract the terror threat. “We have to get them involved. We have to get them engaged – we knock the hell out of their Internet system in the ISIS territories, which by the way are getting larger by the day.”
Industry experts are divided on whether his plan is even possible. “He narrowed his focus to disabling their (ISIS) web presence in Syria. Isolating a country from the rest of the world’s Internet is possible,” said Samuel Bucholtz, co-founder of Casaba Security, though he added that maintaining a long-term ban could prove tough.
“You can’t shut down the Internet access in one region without creating collateral damage and unintended consequences across that area, in neighboring regions, and for other Internet users as well,” said Dave Chronister, founder of Parameter Security.
Chris Snyder is a producer for FoxNews.com based in New York. Follow him on twitter: @ChrisSnyderFox.