Does The US Government Really Need 'Wider Latitude' To Monitor Private Networks?

from the e-Maginote-Line dept

Harvard Law Professor, and former Bush White House lawyer, Jack Goldsmith has an opinion piece today in the NYT about cyber-security. In it, he makes a number of obvious (though admittedly often overlooked) points about the need for better education and information sharing, but then asserts that those, untried, methods will not be enough. Instead, he argues, "The government must be given wider latitude than in the past to monitor private networks and respond to the most serious computer threats." For a lawyer who saw first-hand (and even wrote a book about) the excesses of the Bush administration, this is a reckless claim. The repeatedly documented violations of civil liberties by the NSA and other government agencies (not to mention their private sector compatriots) through widespread network surveillance did not serve to protect and defend US critical infrastructure. In fact, by adding legitimacy to network monitoring, scholars like Goldsmith and respected countries like the USA make it easier for less savorable regimes to justify their digital surveillance and crackdowns. While China's "Green Dam" censorship software was justified on child-safety grounds, the next iteration of liberty limiting code could very well be to stop "cyber-terrorism" or some other amorphous, ill-defined concept.

A far more level-headed approach to cyber-security is taken by Evgeny Morozov in his recent essay in the Boston Review, which points out that "[m]uch of the data are gathered by ultra-secretive government agencies—which need to justify their own existence—and cyber-security companies—which derive commercial benefits from popular anxiety. Journalists do not help. Gloomy scenarios and speculations about cyber-Armaggedon draw attention, even if they are relatively short on facts." While Goldsmith is certainly not promoting increased government intervention out of self-interest, it is not good enough to pay lip-service to privacy and network openness. Decision-makers need to recognize that certain policies and rhetoric will inevitably have dangerous, unproductive unintended consequences.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    CleverName, Jul 9th, 2009 @ 5:40am

    "monitor private networks"

    What exactly does he mean by this statement ?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2009 @ 6:07am

    Yes, they need "Wider Latitude" to monitor it's people because Brittan still doesn't trust us.

    I saw it on Oprah yesterday as they did a thing on "Visiting Windsor Palace" Sorry, but I recently upgraded to DirecTV's new system and now have a 20-tuner HD TiVo setup that will be available in November as Dr. John Malone's close PR folks promised. I see everything.

    So you got XM and Sirius, huh? Flying high on those beautiful Boeing 702s.

    Glad to be a part of the limited demo.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    yozoo, Jul 9th, 2009 @ 6:20am

    pots insult kettels

    "For a lawyer who saw first-hand (and even wrote a book about) the excesses of the Bush administration"

    Yeah I loved how over 8 years everyone came running out of the Bush White House screaming about how awful "they" were and the terrible violations of the consitution and public trust "they" committed. None of these guys ever seem honest enough to admit that they were part of they.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    ..., Jul 9th, 2009 @ 6:26am

    Re:

    wtf?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 9th, 2009 @ 6:32am

    Once again...

    Puh-Leeze!!! There IS no government spying or corruption going on, people. They simply need to access to private networks because that is where malware most likely propogates. After all, it's not as if the government is actually going to {content deleted by Echelon Network} or {content deleted by Echelon Network}.

    You guys tend to make it sound as if the government has some super secret domestic spy network that was originally supposed to be used against the Russians and is now turned against {content deleted by Echelon Network} for the purpose of {content deleted by Echelon Network}.

    Government good, everyone else baaaad!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    James (profile), Jul 9th, 2009 @ 7:00am

    Let them try and Monitor my network. If they can get in, they deserve to be there.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    aguywhoneedstenbucks (profile), Jul 9th, 2009 @ 7:02am

    Re:

    Exactly what it sounds like. Any network deemed "important" but not under government control (privately owned).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2009 @ 7:07am

    I kinda like the idea that people can see me and the websites I go to. Grrr! Like Cougars?

    Yeah, I also trace route regularly and see that "information" entered in searches destined to Google oft go to Virgina or DC before getting a ride cross country on the Mountain View OC48 express where they become "data".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2009 @ 7:13am

    Re:

    You haven't tried hard enough. I have a linux box in a DMZ that gets hit almost nightly by IP addresses registered to DoD.Gov.

    The Senior-level FBI guy down the street thinks I'm gay so I guess I have had some success.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Bradley Stewart, Jul 9th, 2009 @ 7:22am

    Government's Are Always Snooping Around

    if we like it or not. I think that the thing that government doesn't get is if it is looking for some sort of attack it will probably come in the form of a message somewhere and somewhat like this. Hi, how is Mary? and will you two be having dinner with us this Friday night. I don't care what sort of software it has how will they catch something like this.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2009 @ 7:26am

    But sometimes you learn about how other people play the system, learn about what they did that may be illegal, and you just have to shut up and allow them to dig their own grave.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2009 @ 7:31am

    Of course

    People are not able to protect themselves, it is up to the government to take care of us so we don't have to think.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2009 @ 7:35am

    Re:

    Yes, Senior FBI guy down the street, I speak of you.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2009 @ 7:42am

    Re: Government's Are Always Snooping Around

    Right. Good example.

    However, opening a letter has been authorized by what law? Aren't you accomplishing the same thing?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    John Doe, Jul 9th, 2009 @ 7:43am

    Let's not forget..

    That the democratic congress and BO have extended the patriot act. Both parties want to monitor us for our own protection. But that begs the question, who is watching the watchers?

    Oh, gotta go, there is a black helicopter outside!

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Haywood, Jul 9th, 2009 @ 7:48am

    Re: Re:

    It is a short step from that to my 3 computer workgroup.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2009 @ 7:58am

    I want to see a challenge to the TSA "No Fly List" To see a 5 year old kid identified as a "Terrorist" presents some serious issues.

    You guys love XO Communications, huh? I wondered why it wasn't dissolved in Chapter 11. Do you get a few bucks from the Bush Administration? See: connections to DC/Virginia.

    Here's another:
    http://www.komonews.com/stories/37150.htm

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2009 @ 8:11am

    If you can't monitor pubic networks, with any level of success, (See recent Leon Panetta, who runs the damned CIA.. Issues) do you really need to expand?

    "We didn't brief them enough" or whatever he said.

    So, uh, where's the WMDs that you and your guys said existed?

    I want my money back.


    - The Gay Asshole per FBI records

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    icon
    imfaral (profile), Jul 9th, 2009 @ 8:13am

    Re:

    I wouldn't temp them. If the NSA wants into your computer/network they can get in trust me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2009 @ 9:14am

    I wonder if it is possible to include information in a packet that would crash the NSA automated monitoring systems?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Dan, Jul 9th, 2009 @ 3:00pm

    Better idea?

    I would suggest that what we really need is wider latitude to prosecute those that advocate usurping our constitutional rights. Also mandatory prison sentences for those legislators and executives that attempt to legalize same.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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