Wyden To White House: Protecting Nuclear Power Plants Is Different Than Protecting Facebook
from the critical-infrastructure dept
This is, quite reasonably, raising some concerns. Senator Ron Wyden has sent a letter to the White House's Cybersecurity
In the case of interactive computer services, such as networks that facilitate commerce, provide search services, or are platforms for social networking and speech, vulnerabilities are unlikely to constitute threats to our national security. It should be clear in any executive order related to cybersecurity that there is a fundamental difference between networks that manage infrastructure critical to public safety, like energy, water, and transportation systems, and those that provide digital goods and services to the public. It would be a profound mistake to subject our growing digital economy to onerous new cyber rules and regulations that stifle innovation, creativity, and job growth. Such rules will not serve to combat the real threat to the nation's critical infrastructure and national security.Indeed. While we tend to agree that various internet services are important to our economy, to argue that social networks are somehow the equivalent of energy systems, water treatment plants or the like seems obviously ridiculous. All it ends up doing is leaving a massive opening for the feds to seek much greater access and control over the internet services we use every day than they really need.
There are reasonable fears that some in the government are really using scare stories about planes falling from the sky due to cyberattacks to really open up access to private communications systems on the internet for surveillance purposes. Given what we've seen with other spying efforts, such worries seem quite justified. This is not unlike supporters of SOPA using the very narrowly focused issue of fake drugs as an excuse to pass expansive copyright laws dealing with file sharing online. In this case, it seems like those who really just want access to online communications may be using claims of "threats" to "critical infrastructure" to backdoor their way in. And the trick is just to define "critical infrastructure" really broadly. Hopefully people recognize that the definitions here really do matter, and that any executive order is very narrowly focused towards actual critical infrastructure.