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Jack Woehr

Dr. Dobb's Bloggers

Obama on Cybersecurity : "Who needs a law?"

June 11, 2009

The image “http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/23/GeoreOrwell.jpg/200px-GeoreOrwell.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.In my article Extraordinary Government Powers over the Internet a few weeks ago, it was noted that the US Senate was considering S.773 which would apparently give a shadowy government directorate full control over every computer in the universe. Now it appears that the Obama adminstration may not bother with the formality of a "law".

The new cybersecurity directorate with power over all networks, all computers, and all software authorship and deployment will be created by executive order -- if the directorate even needs such a quaint document anymore to spring into existence.

Informative on this matter is a New York Times article by Sanger and Markoff entitled "Obama Outlines Coordinated Cyber-Security Plan " ... as informative by what it (and/or the president) doesn't say as by what it does say.

Mr. Obama’s ... said nothing about resolving the running turf wars among the Pentagon, the National Security Agency, the Homeland Security Department and other agencies over the conduct of defensive and offensive cyberoperations. The White House approach appears to place a new “cybersecurity coordinator” over all of those agencies.

Amusing are the following observations:

In an effort to silence critics who have complained that the official will not have sufficient status to cut through the maze of competing federal agencies, Mr. Obama said the new coordinator would have “regular access to me" ... A lingering disagreement has been how to coordinate that new command with the work of the National Security Agency ...

Not a word in the article, hardly the merest hint about "critics" or "lingering disagreement" on the part of those like you and me who might feel the whole thing smacks of authoritarian government and is a damnable usurpation by power-drunk bureaucrats in the defense intelligence complex.

You and I only figure in the discussion of this matter insofar as our voices on the Internet have apparently scared the would-be cyberdictators away from pushing for passage of S.733. The one thing they can't afford is open debate with the rank-and-file of the Internet community participating: the bill is failing 288 to 7 in OpenCongress.org's straw poll .


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