Thursday, 17 September 2009

Coming Cyberczar to Regulate Internet

Written by  Steven J. DuBord

computerPresident Barack Obama is close to adding another czar to the growing number of czars in his administration. This one will be a cyberczar (otherwise known as the National Cybersecurity Adviser) to coordinate cybersecurity efforts and regulate the Internet.

It has been over a week since Reuters first speculated on September 9 that Obama was close to revealing his choice, and that the frontrunner was Frank Kramer, who served as an Assistant Defense Secretary under President Bill Clinton. Reuters said that their source, “who has direct knowledge of the matter, asked not to be named because of its sensitive nature.”

The czar’s new Office of the National Cybersecurity Adviser would be created as part of legislation introduced by Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), the so-called Cybersecurity Act of 2009. The act consists of two Senate bills (S. 773 and S. 778), and would make the Cybersecurity Adviser directly responsible to the President for managing America’s defense efforts against cyberspace attacks.

But critics of the measure have been quick to point out its faults. A September 17 Milwaukee Examiner story summed this up by saying that the two bills of the Cybersecurity Act, “if passed, will grant … President Barack Obama unprecedented power to access private Internet data, regulate cybersecurity in the private sector, and the authority to completely shutdown the Internet during a cyber emergency.” Only Obama and his cyberczar know for sure what they would consider an emergency dire enough to pull the plug on the Internet.

IT professionals would find themselves in need of federal certification, which the Examiner notes is “something that angers these technicians and those who believe in the First Amendment.” This is typical government hubris and folly. Declare that government bureaucrats should determine who is skilled enough to work in IT because, of course, those bureaucrats know more than people who have devoted their lives and educations to IT. Then the government will be on the wrong side of the very people who are needed to defend the country’s networks and who would have the skill to express their frustration through cyberattacks of their own.

While the inanity of this may seem almost laughable, political strategist Mike Baker believes that the deeper motivations for all this federal control are no laughing matter: “There is no laughing about a government that wants to control cyber space, the last bastion of freedom of speech in our crumbling democracy. What irks President Barack Obama and the other liberal-left politicians is that fact that while they’re pampered by the mainstream news media, talk radio and the Internet are not in the tank for them.”

Baker continues: “Once Americans realize what’s happening it may be too late thanks to Obama's supporters in the news media. Do a search and you won’t see stories about this power grab in the major media.”

The previous administration led by George Bush enlisted private businesses to help spy on innocent Americans in ways that are nowhere near as obvious as the surveillance cameras that are proliferating in public places. “The technology involved is so complicated that it may take computer scientists to discover whether the government is protecting Americans on the worldwide web or spying on them. And what are businesses that rely on the Internet supposed to do if the President closes down the Internet?” asks computer security expert Sam McCarthy, a former police commander.

“People went ballistic when they discovered the Bush White House authorized the interception of telephone and other electronic communications by intelligence and law enforcement agencies, and rightly so,” said former NYPD cop turned security expert Mike Fitzgerald. “Yet, I haven’t heard a peep from these same people who claim they are concerned with ‘privacy rights.’ ”

Fitzgerald’s assessment is chilling: “This may come back to haunt us as the first step down a truly slippery slope.” Americans would do well to tell their representative and senators to oppose the Cybersecurity Act of 2009 (S. 773 and S. 778) before it is too late.

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