Former Cybersecurity Czar Thinks DHS Should Spy On All Internet Traffic Crossing Our Borders… Because Of Chinese Pirates?

from the um,-no dept

Richard Clarke, the former cybersecurity czar in the White House — and a huge, huge, huge proponent of pushing for greater legislation for spying on Americans under the guise of “cybersecurity” (it used to be “cyberwar” but that term was so laughable, it’s been downgraded to “cybersecurity) — has written one of the most ridiculous defenses of new internet spying proposals, claiming that Chinese hackers are stealing all our intellectual property by hacking into computers online. He has no evidence of this. He tells apocryphal stories of Chinese hackers somehow getting all the data from a “$1 billion research program copied by hackers in one night.” The whole thing is fear-mongering in the extreme, using the specter of evil “Chinese pirates” hacking computers and stealing important US intellectual property. That’s wrong for a variety of reasons that we’ve discussed multiple times. But where it gets downright silly is in his assertion that (1) the US could magically “stop” these mythical hackers from “stealing” data, and (2) that Homeland Security already has the authority to spy on all internet traffic as it comes over the border:

If given the proper authorization, the United States government could stop files in the process of being stolen from getting to the Chinese hackers. If government agencies were authorized to create a major program to grab stolen data leaving the country, they could drastically reduce today’s wholesale theft of American corporate secrets.


Under Customs authority, the Department of Homeland Security could inspect what enters and exits the United States in cyberspace. Customs already looks online for child pornography crossing our virtual borders. And under the Intelligence Act, the president could issue a finding that would authorize agencies to scan Internet traffic outside the United States and seize sensitive files stolen from within our borders.

And this does not have to endanger citizens’ privacy rights. Indeed, Mr. Obama could build in protections like appointing an empowered privacy advocate who could stop abuses or any activity that went beyond halting the theft of important files.

Almost everything stated above is ridiculous. As law professor James Grimmelman points out, with this article “Richard Clarke disqualifies himself from participating in any serious discussion of cybersecurity.”

Indeed. It’s scary to think that Clarke was ever seen as an expert in cybersecurity. He seems to be under the assumption that the internet really is a series of tubes, in which customs agents can simply stop all that data at the border and inspect it. And the idea that appointing a single “privacy advocate” would magically stop abuses? You’d think he just stepped off the turnip truck, rather than having spent many years in government where privacy was regularly abused, despite much more significant safeguards in place. Who does he think he’s kidding?

Will we ever have people driving policy discussions on regulating the internet who actually understand the internet?

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Comments on “Former Cybersecurity Czar Thinks DHS Should Spy On All Internet Traffic Crossing Our Borders… Because Of Chinese Pirates?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

‘Will we ever have people driving policy discussions on regulating the internet who actually understand the internet?’

i wouldn’t bank on it. and as for this ‘turnip’ being in government for years, that’s about par for the course as well. how many people are there in government that possess even a remnant of common sense? 90%+ deal only with fantasy land situations that are dreamed up by themselves to keep them in a job!

Wintermute (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Unfortunately, our system is set up in such a way that it resists the attempt to vote in anyone other than one of the major party candidates, at least as far as the executive branch is concerned. And voting in 3rd parties for Congress has only had extremely limited success. Don’t get me wrong, I completely agree that we need new parties in power than what our options are now. But I also realize that it’s far from our fault, and my vote is mostly symbolic as I vote for an alternate-party candidate.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I don’t think creating news parties would solve anything. They would just settle into the same equlibrium we’re in now. The actual solution is to make federal elections publicly funded. Only then would good people be able to serve in government without worrying more about their funders than their constituants.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

They should be able to use NO FUNDS at all. Think of it as a job (which I think it is). Have the potential candidates put together their resumes and track records. Interview them and let them debate. Do not let them air commercials or do any of the other silly things they do with their campaign funds. They are just lying to us with their twisted ads and false promises. If a candidate cannot stand on their resume, track record, interview and debate skills, then they are not qualified to be president. Why do we allow unqualified people with below average intelligence, work ethic and understanding of the world to steer the ship?

You cannot pay to have your resume moved to the top of the pile and to have other resumes discarded, so why do we let the politicians do so with us? The public should be able to submit “interview” questions to the candidates. We could then make our decisions based on their answers and judge them against their track record and ability to communicate (which is what they need to do as president…communicate).

G Thompson (profile) says:

I have this picture in my head now of US Homeland security agents all analysing the tubes, finding the packets, sorting through the bits, putting the pieces back together and then discovering that OMG they are using ROT13 encryption, or even better.

They could call it the “Masturbating with a cheesegrater” squad. A noble squad goal but ultimately futile and extremely painful to all involved.

Though I’d pay to watch!

Atkray (profile) says:

New Idea

Since there is the push to paint the internet as such an unsafe place maybe those of us that use it and enjoy it should embrace that.

Maybe if the internet was known as a horrific place where by merely connecting you might have your home stolen from you and your grandchildren sold into prostitution and your goldfish stuffed into a plastic bag key-chain, then people wouldn’t connect power grids and important research to it.

maybe I need a nap.

Anonymous Coward says:

The only way...

So, they intend to cut all the international communication cables and install a huge faraday cage around the U.S.? While they’re at it, they might as well stop all international travel to/from the U.S…

Cuz, otherwise, I’m not sure how they intend to prevent international encrypted communications.

You know what’s more effective? Securing the data in the first place.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: I hope you know

I dont know if you understand this…

Taxes went thru the roof, long ago, as cars went from 10mpg to 20mpg..BT, not much on gas. It went to property taxes.
AS the gov watched this happen, and taxes for ROADS went DOWN..They DIDNT keep pushing on car development..
THINK of what happens, when we get to 30mpg..and LOOSE more taxes. How about 40 MPG..

Until we can make ALL ROADS, city, country, STATE, FEDERAL…Durable. Increasing MPG will not be an answer.

Consider that the COST of installing roads from the 60-70’s cost BILLIONS…and now for the SAME ROADS its 10-100 times as much.
HOW do you wish to pay for that.

Another point to make, is GAS TAX. We are NOW higher then Canada.(I think) is the Price of Gas. Every other nation MATCHES the price of gas as a tax.. $6 per gallon Fuel in canada is $3 of tax.($3 tax+ $3 fuel)… The USA is the ONLY NATION that charges a FIXED rate in each State..IDAHO is the highest at $0.70 per gallon.
IF’ we did it as other nations…It would be around $7..

ECA (profile) says:

WHICH would be easier..

setup a site to give BASIC knowledge and MAYBE a few programs to protect BASIC USERS from CRAP/SCAMS/VIRUS/BOTS???
If you think about it, BOTS tend to cause MORE problems and ARE MADE in the USA..By Advert venders/creators.

Or CREATE tons of LAG and restrictions to get to OUTSIDE USA sites..

If someone is looking to insert a virus or HACK ISNT personal computers they are looking for. There isnt much There.
The only thing you WANT from personal computers, is BANK accounts numbers and passwords, and a GOOD BOT can find that. And those are generally sent by ADVERTS, created(probably/mostly) in the USA by Corps..

Anyone know the definition of virus and bots??

Virus= Causes REAL problems and can kill your data/system..

Bots= scanners/scammers/Keyboard trackers/Internet trackers.. They can just Watch where you go and see the OTHER adverts they have to watching you on your USB CAMERA..
Generally they dont do much, except pass your info around and SLOW DOWN your connections.(record 1 system Virus cleanup 57)

Bots want you to USE YOUR SYSTEM so they can track/watch you. Install MORE adverts and such.(record 1 system cleanup..over 300 bots)

nospacesorspecialcharacters (profile) says:

Actually I know exactly what he’s talking about..

The other day I was expecting an email to arrive from the UK, but it turns out as the email had not applied for the correct visa before sending.

As it was about to cross the digital border the CSA agent pulled it out of line to inspect it’s packet.

Well the CSA agent then asked “How long do you intend to stay on a US server?” and the email answered “Forever”, the CSA agent promptly escorted the email to a holding cell for 24 hours then sent it back on the tube the next morning.

Now that email has been put on a “No TCP” list, it can’t be sent anywhere. I feel really sorry for that email.

So there you have it folks, make sure your email applies for the correct visa before attempting to digitally enter the US, or ensure that it has a return date to go back to the sender before 90 days.

Steve R. (profile) says:

China Can Simply Buy the Techology

It seems that the those in charge have to create some evil bogeyman to justify continued repression to fight this or that “war”. Perhaps the biggest threat to our national security is continued unrestrained deficit spending. The Chinese can simply buy our debt and use it to legally buy US companies to acquire whatever technology that they seek. An easy end-run to by-pass any cybersecurity.

Unfortunately, the concept of operating this country with a balanced budget would mean that our esteemed politicians would have to make real decisions and do some real work. Easier to fan the flames of public outrage, declare a “war” and then pass more useless)repressive legislation.

Based on the stage that has been set so-far, it would seem in 2013 that either Obama and Romney, if elected President, would loudly beat the drums-of-war. The inauguration speech may well be serve as a prelude.

Mega1987 (profile) says:

Is this guy for real?
They’re mixing a few bad apples with the rest of the good ones.
AND treating the whole bunch bad.

Seriously… for profit, they disregard human rights.
I won’t be surprised if they compromised a human life in exchange of something that can be made or replace easily by man for this so called CR/IP/National security….

You folks really, REALLY Deserve the Darwin’s awards when you plans go to hell after a few months of implementation.
Let’s see if your plan can be sustained by your nation, watching over 3 billion or more internet users.

I bet it will deplete your government’s fund like a pail with a 1 inch hole at the bottom of it.

saulgoode (profile) says:

Will we ever have people driving policy discussions on regulating the internet who actually understand the internet?

We have the Director of the Patents and Trademarks Office who considers the granting of a spurious patent to Thomas Edison a “shining example” of how the USPTO serves the public (as anybody who has an education beyond the fourth grade has learned, Edison’s light bulb patent was invalidated three years after being issued).

We have the Register of Copyrights who by some inexplicable means is able to view her priorities such that promoting the interests of a handful of monopolistic corporations takes precedence over fulfilling her duties of serving the public and abiding by the oath she took to support and defend the U.S. Constitution. And is furthermore deluding herself that everyone behind the SOPA/PIPA protests were just “confused”.

We have the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Intellectual Property proudly proclaiming his ignorance about how the Internet works.

Things don’t look too promising.

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