Bad Things Happen When Politicians Think They Understand Technology

from the not-so-good dept

With health care reform out of the way, lots of politicians are pushing out new legislative ideas, hoping that Congress can now focus on other issues -- so we're seeing lots of bad legislation proposed. Let's do a two for one post, highlighting two questionable bills that many of you have been submitting. The first, proposed by Senators Schumer and Graham, is technically about immigration reform, which is needed, but what's scary is that the plan includes yet another plan for a national ID card. Didn't we just go through this with Real ID, which was rejected by the states? Jim Harper, who follows this particular issue more than just about anyone, has an excellent breakdown of the proposal, questioning what good a national ID does, while also pointing to the potential harm of such a plan.

Then we have the big cybercrime bill put forth by Senators Hatch and Gillibrand Senators Rockefeller and Snowe (updated, since there are two separate cybersecurity bills, and its the Rockefeller/Snowe one that has people scared), that tries to deal with the "serious threat of cybercrime." But, of course, it already has tech companies worried about the unintended consequences, especially when it requires complying with gov't-issued security practices that likely won't keep up with what's actually needed:
"Despite all [the] best efforts, we do have concerns regarding whether government can rapidly recognize best practices without defaulting to a one-size-fits all approach," they wrote.

"The NIST-based requirements framework in the bill, coupled with government procurement requirements, if not clarified, could have the unintended effect of hindering the development and use of cutting-edge technologies, products, and services, even for those that would protect our critical information infrastructure."

They added the bill might impose a bureaucratic employee-certification program on companies or give the president the authority to mandate security practices.
This is one of those bills that sounds good for the headlines (cybercrime is bad, we need to stop it), but has the opposite effect in reality: setting up needless "standards" that actually prevent good security practices. It's bills like both of these that remind us that technologically illiterate politicians making technology policy will do funky things, assuming that technology works with some sort of magic.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Mark Blafkin (profile), Mar 25th, 2010 @ 4:42am

    A little mixup in your post

    Mike,

    There are actually two different cybercrime proposals in the Senate. The cybercrime bill by Hatch and Gillibrand is a limited proposal that is focused on how the US government and State Dept. can help deal with international cases of cybercrime. It has the support of most of the tech industry.

    The article you cite on tech companies RIGHTFULLY being worried about "unintended consequences" is talking about a completely different cybercrime bill that is cosponsored by Rockefeller and Snow.



    has the support of most major tech firms

     

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  2.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 25th, 2010 @ 4:48am

    Re: A little mixup in your post

    Oops. Fixed. Thaks.

     

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

  3.  
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    Ima Fish (profile), Mar 25th, 2010 @ 5:27am

    "yet another plan for a national ID card"

    Are these guys really this stupid? There are thousands upon thousands of people in the US who seriously think that Obama is turning the US into socialist dictatorship. Those group who completely freaked out over health insurance reform will go ballistic over this. And they're already highly mobilized. There is no fricken way this could ever pass without blood being spilled.

     

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  4.  
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    Dementia (profile), Mar 25th, 2010 @ 5:31am

    Re:

    Actually, I think the blood would be spilled AFTER this passed, but it could happen before too.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Yosi, Mar 25th, 2010 @ 5:37am

    What's up with those "OMG, ID card" hysteria?

    I really fail to understand why idea of ID card causing Americans so match fear and hysteria. Almost every single country have one. ALL civilized countries have one.
    I happened to live in both dictatorship state, and democratic one, and both have similar ID system. Although, "democratic" version is more efficient.

    What kind of "potential harm" are you talking about? I can't imagine modern state without some kind of identification document for its citizens. Are you hoping that fellow policemen will know all town population personally? Americans already _have_ global ID (IIRC its "Social Security Number"); so what's a problem with creating another one, probably more efficient. Truly mind boggling.

     

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  6.  
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    James (profile), Mar 25th, 2010 @ 5:43am

    Make your time

    All your LANS, are belong to us.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2010 @ 5:44am

    Re: What's up with those "OMG, ID card" hysteria?

    Did you read the article commie?

     

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  8.  
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    chrisma (profile), Mar 25th, 2010 @ 6:00am

    Following standards

    It will be interesting to see how politician are going to make sure the 'cybercriminals' are following the new standards.

     

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  9.  
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    Ima Fish (profile), Mar 25th, 2010 @ 6:05am

    Re: What's up with those "OMG, ID card" hysteria?

    There is a large group of libertarianish nuts in the US who think the purpose of government is not to exist. Anything the government does which proves its existence gets these nutjobs riled up.

    You probably think I'm kidding but I'm not.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2010 @ 6:30am

    Just say no to socialism

     

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  11.  
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    Overcast (profile), Mar 25th, 2010 @ 6:42am

    Idea: Get critical systems that really matter... OFF THE INTERNET.

     

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  12.  
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    Chargone (profile), Mar 25th, 2010 @ 6:48am

    Re: What's up with those "OMG, ID card" hysteria?

    New Zealand doesn't.

    actually, the way the law works, it Can't. not one that actually achieved anything, anyway.

    there's this fun law about different entities (government departments, companies, etc) not being allowed to have their systems match up or something...

    basically, social security numbers and ID cards just can't happen without a law change to remove that law And another to create them (... and if the law is entrenched, which it might be, either a super majority or an Additional law change is required to allow the first change)

    something to do with the privacy act or something.

     

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  13.  
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    Chargone (profile), Mar 25th, 2010 @ 6:51am

    Re:

    which works until you get to the ones that only exist because of the 'net, such as online shopping.

    also, if your military doesn't do this already, whoever is in charge of such things should be shot.

     

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  14.  
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    Haywood (profile), Mar 25th, 2010 @ 7:06am

    Re: What's up with those "OMG, ID card" hysteria?

    My take on it is this; We have been traditionally allowed, to walk down the street with out ID of any sort. Say I decide to go for a walk on a nice evening, I've been hanging out at the house, in casual clothes, no wallet, watch, or anything, except perhaps, a bit of change in my pocket. I should be able to do that. It speaks of WWII Germany or Soviet Russia. Not in tune with a free country with guaranteed liberty and rights. The will counter; it is only to get on a transit system or enter a building, but just wait, it will be required to be on your person at all times eventually.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    DS, Mar 25th, 2010 @ 7:21am

    Re: Re: What's up with those "OMG, ID card" hysteria?

    And there's a large group of liberal nuts in the US who think the purpose of government is to be involved in every aspect of your life, and make sure that nobody has a better life then anyone else.

    You probably think I'm kidding, but I'm not.

     

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  16.  
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    Comboman (profile), Mar 25th, 2010 @ 7:21am

    Re:

    Actually, the senators proposing this bill are Republicans. Republicans are supportive of government regulations and interference if it's in the name of security. They only get upset if the government is actually trying to help people.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    DS, Mar 25th, 2010 @ 7:21am

    Fixed it for you...

    Bad Things Happen When Politicians Think They Understand Anything

     

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  18.  
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    Ryan, Mar 25th, 2010 @ 7:29am

    Re: Re:

    They only get upset if the government is actually trying to help people.

    I wish the government would stop being so good to me.

     

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  19.  
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    Jim, Mar 25th, 2010 @ 7:36am

    Government help

    The scariest sentence in the english language:

    "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you"

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2010 @ 8:38am

    Re: Re: Re: What\'s up with those \"OMG, ID card\" hysteria?

    And there's a large group of nuts in the US who don't think.

    You probably think I'm kidding, but I'm not.

     

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

  21.  
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    JerryAtrick (profile), Mar 25th, 2010 @ 8:39am

    Mossad hit squad

    I was talking with a colleague the other day about his trip to the UAE, and we couldn't help but hit the topic of the recent assassination by the Mossad. The reason it's relevant here is because of the so-called national ID cards. If someone could invent or come up with a useful national ID card that without fail linked a card to a physical characteristic on a person (let's say it be a fingerprint or birthmark or facial scan), the inventor would become one of the wealthiest people on the face of the earth... I'm positive that as of right now, no one in the US political field has a clue about how this could be done, therefore, why are we even wasting time attempting to put it into legislation. I can't help but think of this 'invisible fence' that was supposedly going to be put up along the mexican-american border. waste of taxpayer dollars and a way for a corporation to get more money.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2010 @ 8:40am

    Have you been cybermugged by a cybercriminal lately?

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    martymar, Mar 25th, 2010 @ 9:01am

    Re: What\'s up with those \"OMG, ID card\" hysteria?

    > Americans already _have_ global ID (IIRC its "Social
    > Security Number"); so what's a problem with creating
    > another one, probably more efficient.


    Then why do we need another? I already have a SS# and a driver's license. State's also offer identification cards for non-drivers. Now I need a 3rd piece of ID? ..One that we most certainly will pay for.. and then pay to renew again and again. And then be jailed for not carrying it.

    Papers, please.

    Riddle me this.. what kind of ID did the 9/11 terrorists have? Oh, that's right, 100% official government mandated, produced identification.

    Please tell me again why we need another piece of ID and why this NEW ID would be better and not susceptible to the same problems we have now.

    And you really think anything the government can do at this point will be efficient?


    There is a cost to living in a free society.

    The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants


    Shit, they can't even keep people murdering inside the most locked down, supermax prisons because no technology in the world can prevent a determined individual.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2010 @ 9:21am

    Re: Re: What\\\'s up with those \\\"OMG, ID card\\\" hysteria?

    I still chuckle when I recall a few years back news about one of the biggest drug dealers in America. His name? Charles Manson.

    What? Isn't he in jail? And if they can't stop Charles Manson from dealing drugs in FUCKING PRISON then what hope does the American government have in stopping the dealing fo drugs outside of prison?

    ID cards for everyone! Yay!

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2010 @ 10:13am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: What\\\'s up with those \\\"OMG, ID card\\\" hysteria?

    And theres a large group of trolls in the US who one-up whatever came before without adding anything to the conversation.

    You probably think I'm kidding, but I'm not.

     

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

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2010 @ 10:47am

    Oh, and lets not forget that politicians, in California no less (my state), tried to ban H2O.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Keith, Mar 25th, 2010 @ 11:26am

    Re: What\'s up with those \"OMG, ID card\" hysteria?

    The UK doesn't have ID cards.

    You're not even required to carry a photo driving licence with you. If you're stopped by police you have 7 days to show your papers at the nearest police station.

     

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

  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2010 @ 1:35pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: What\\\\\\\'s up with those \\\\\\\"OMG, ID card\\\\\\\" hysteria?

    Kettle meet pot, pot meet kettle. You just trolled yourself.

     

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

  29.  
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    DerekCurrie (profile), Mar 25th, 2010 @ 2:30pm

    Nostalgia: Former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens

    What is it with boisterous proclamations of ignorance from elected officials from Alaska?

    "I just the other day got, an internet was sent by my staff at 10 o'clock in the morning on Friday and I just got it yesterday. Why? Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the internet commercially." . . .
    "They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the internet. And again, the internet is not something you just dump something on. It's not a truck. It's a series of tubes. And if you don't understand those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and its going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material." . . .

     

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

  30.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Mar 25th, 2010 @ 4:05pm

    Re: Re:

    "such as online shopping"

    Umm... online shopping is very, very far from a "critical system." Not as far away as Facebook and such, but still. If it went away tomorrow, I don't think cities would burn, there would be mass famine, mass blackouts, or any of the other things that are prevented by actually critical systems.

    Critical systems have no business being on the internet. If they can be brought down via the internet, the solution is not to tighten internet security, but to fire the idiots who connected that network up to the public one, then pull the plug on the bridge.

     

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

  31.  
    identicon
    American, Mar 26th, 2010 @ 10:48pm

    Re: Re: What\'s up with those \"OMG, ID card\" hysteria?

    There is another group of socialist nuts who think that the purpose of government is to grow expotentially until it consumes all it touches, from cradle to grave. Idiot.
    Try understanding what has made America truly special from other countries- it's in the Constitution.

     

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


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