Jim Kouri
Obama cyber czar to regulate the information highway
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By Jim Kouri
September 18, 2009

While the American people, the news media and most politicians are absorbed with proposed health care legislation, two pieces of legislation that were introduced in the U.S. Senate, if passed, will grant the 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.

Senate bills 773 and 778, introduced by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V., are both part of what's being called the Cybersecurity Act of 2009, which would create a new Office of the National Cybersecurity Advisor, reportable directly to the president and charged with defending the country from cyber attack. In addition, it will require professional IT people to be certified by the federal government, something that angers these technicians and those who believe in the First Amendment.

According to critics, this stealth legislation is being sponsored by the powerful and highly partisan Senator Rockefeller and the liberal Senator Olympia Snow (R-ME).

"The fact that a man who visited other nations to give them a heads up about our intentions would now suddenly care about security is laughable," said political strategist Mike Baker.

"But there is no laughing about a government that wants to control cyber space, the last bastion of freedom of speech in our crumbling democracy," said Baker. "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."

During a White House announcement televised on Fox News, CNN and other news networks, Obama said he will appoint a cyber security coordinator — or Cyber Czar — for the critical infrastructure that all Americans depend on.

"We will ensure that these networks are secure, trustworthy and resilient," he said. "We will deter, prevent, detect and defend against attacks, and recover quickly from any disruptions or damage."

The cyber security office will orchestrate and integrate all cyber security policies for the government, the president said. It will work closely with the Office of Management and Budget to ensure agency budgets reflect those priorities, and, in the event of major cyber incident or attack, it will coordinate government response.

The cyber security coordinator will be a member of the national security staff and will serve on the president's national economic council.

But Critics point out that any high-tech program that entails government intrusion should be carefully monitored by not only the US Congress but also private sector experts in cyber security and computer-based espionage.

"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. Yet, I haven't heard a peep from these same people who claim they are concerned with 'privacy rights,'" said security expert and former NYPD cop Mike Fitzgerald.

"This may come back to haunt us as the first step down a truly slippery slope," said former the Police detective and director of security.

"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 Sam McCarthy a former police commander now a computer security expert..

The cyber infrastructure is not limited to the federal government. The office will work with state and local governments and international partners to combat cyber attacks, and also will work with the private sector to ensure an organized and unified response to future cyber incidents, Obama stated.

Experts agree that America's economic prosperity in the 21st century will depend on cyber security, which also affects public safety and national security. However, most experts contacted by NewswithViews.com said that cyber security should be the responsibility of the private sector not government officials.

"We count on computer networks to deliver our oil and gas, our power and our water," said McCarthy.

"Computers help run public transportation networks from the skies to subways, he noted, and hackers have launched attacks on electrical grids," he added.

Part of the Obama program is a national campaign to promote cyber security awareness and digital literacy. The effort also will be part of the president's initiative to build a digital work force for the 21st century. However, according to security experts, Obama is seeking powers never before given to a President even during the height of the Cold War.

"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," warns Baker.

© Jim Kouri

 

The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Jim Kouri

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police... (more)

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