Cybersecurity Act an open door for government control

In my last post, I challenged you to read and consider the ramifications for the CyberSecurity Act of 2009 that is currently in the congressional queue. As with most issues, there are opinions from one end of the spectrum to the other. I appreciate that, as it provides for healthy debate. All Americans should be more committed to researching important matters and taking strong, well-supported stances on them. If Americans voiced their opinions more appropriately and more often, perhaps the state of the union would be different.

Regarding the CyberSecurity Act, I have a mixed view. Surely all of us want our national infrastructures fortified against those who seek to harm our country. However, in reading the aforementioned document which was presented to the Senate on Apr. 1, I have some concerns about the seemingly unlimited control, decision-making power and information access it gives to the president and the secretary of commerce.

For example, it provides for the president to “declare a cybersecurity emergency and order the limitation or shutdown of Internet traffic to and from any compromised Federal government or United States critical infrastructure information system or network.” Yet, it does not appear to establish a clear accountability protocol for the president to follow. It is in our best interest to ensure that even the president remains clearly accountable to the American people. It is dangerous for any country to give unchecked discretion, control or power to her top leader.

Further, this document gives increased authority to the secretary of commerce, who “shall have access to all relevant data concerning (critical infrastructure) networks without regard to any provision of law, regulation, rule, or policy restricting such access . . .”

Jennifer Granick of the Electronic Frontier Foundation reports, “The bill would give the Commerce Department absolute, non-emergency access to 'all relevant data' without any privacy safeguards like standards or judicial review. The broad scope of this provision could eviscerate statutory protections for private information, such as the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the Privacy Protection Act, or financial privacy regulations.”

Bryann Alexandros of the Christian Science Monitor says the CyberSecurity Act “would advance a plethora of shady mandates that could impinge on America's freedom and actually put it at greater risk.” While the CyberSecurity Act appears to be a virtuous effort to protect our country from enemy attack, if not held to close scrutiny, it simultaneously may help pave the way for an attack of another kind–on our privacy. However, regardless of the discussion, or lack thereof, President Obama is moving forward exercising control of cyber security, as he shared publicly this past Friday.

I believe we are in a perfect storm. Bills, such as the CyberSecurity Act, are longer and wordier than ever before. At the same time, Christians are probably as complacent as ever about reading them and/or holding their representatives accountable to do so. This bill is just one of many. If we are not careful to monitor legislative actions related to cyberspace, many of our freedoms may be limited and our cyber voices may even be silenced. There are those who wish to suppress the religious right's freedom of speech–one prominent place for it being the Internet.

Just today, I watched an important video on YouTube of Congressman Randy Forbes on the floor of the U.S. House asking his colleagues, “If America was once a Judeo-Christian nation, when did it cease to be?” Strangely, YouTube has disabled the ability to add comments to this video. I can't help but wonder who made that decision, and why.

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  1. Chrissd21 said:

    “Strangely, YouTube has disabled the ability to add comments to this video. I can’t help but wonder who made that decision, and why.” Because it’s contriverisal. 😛 “Christians are probably as complacent as ever about reading them and/or holding their representatives accountable to do so.” Welcome to democracy. The decisions for the majority are made by the vocal minority. Most people are complacent. “or example, it provides for the president to “declare a cybersecurity emergency and order the limitation or shutdown of Internet traffic to and from any compromised Federal government or United States critical infrastructure information system or network.“” Good. The best defence a computer has is if it’s disconnected. Once read a quote. The only “safe” computer is one that’s turned off, in an underground vault behind steal doors and encased in concrete. And even then you should be worried. And I know, I’m commenting backwards, it’s just easier to do it that way. “Further, this document gives increased authority to the secretary of commerce, who “shall have access to all relevant data concerning (critical infrastructure) networks without regard to any provision of law, regulation, rule, or policy restricting such access” That bit is pretty scary. I’m not an American, but Australia very much mirrors the USA so that’s something to look at. The sad fact though, is that power like that exists already. Freedom of Information can be used for quit a lot. However, most people don’t realise it. To comment on this website, I had to enter my name, birth date and location. Privacy is an illusion. ” While the CyberSecurity Act appears to be a virtuous effort to protect our country from enemy attack, if not held to close scrutiny, it simultaneously may help pave the way for an attack of another kind—on our privacy” That’s the thing. You can’t have both. If you want a high level of protection, then you lose a high level of freedom. It’s just the way it works. Yes, it’s possible to lose freedom without getting anything in return but.. Say you needed an ID pass to go anywhere. You needed to swipe it to get onto a bus. To pay for something. To go to the cinema. You would be under a high level of scrutiny. But how many people do you know who would risk breaking the law? If they knew the police could get them instantly. Knew everything about them.. It’s a tough choice but in todays reality, it’s almost worth losing that freedom to gain the security.

    June 7, 2009
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