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.
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Filed Under: cybersecurity, immigration, national id, politicians, technology


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  1. icon
    Ima Fish (profile), 25 Mar 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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