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.

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Comments on “Does The US Government Really Need 'Wider Latitude' To Monitor Private Networks?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

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.

yozoo says:

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.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

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!

Anonymous Coward says:

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”.

Bradley Stewart (profile) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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:

Anonymous Coward says:

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

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