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Keep the government from snooping in our e-mail

By: Examiner Editorial
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04/09/09 8:47 PM



Civilian libertarians were apoplectic over former President George W. Bush’s “warrantless wiretap” program, which sought to monitor communications from terrorist networks overseas. So why are they not screaming bloody murder now that President Barack Obama appears slated to receive unprecedented power to monitor all Internet traffic without a warrant and to even shut the system down completely on the pretext of national security? The Cybersecurity Act of 2009 - introduced by Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-WV, and cosponsor Olympia Snowe, R-ME - bypasses all existing privacy laws and allows White House political operatives to tap into any online communication without a warrant, including banking, medical, and business records and personal e-mail conversations. This amounts to warrantless wiretaps on steroids, directed at U.S. citizens instead of foreign terrorists.
The bill gives the Secretary of Commerce and a new national cybersecurity czar power to shut down all Internet transmissions in the event of a yet-to-be defined “cyber emergency.” This is a dangerous power, even for a president who in a 2008 campaign appearance at Dartmouth College harshly criticized Bush for anti-terrorist “wiretaps without warrants,” and promised that if elected he would leave such policies behind.
There’s no doubt that serious deficiencies in cyber security remain a major threat to national security. Just this week, The Wall Street Journal reported that our electric grid has already been penetrated by Russian and Chinese hackers. But centralized eavesdropping in Washington and government licensing of cyber- security specialists is exactly the wrong approach. Jennifer Granick, director of civil liberties at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says such an approach would actually make the Internet even more vulnerable by “basically establish[ing] a path for the bad guys to skip down.” The best response to increasing cyber threats, then, is less centralization - not more. This bill, which is a full frontal assault on our First Amendment rights, should be deleted from the congressional agenda immediately. Americans should tell President Obama and members of Congress in no uncertain terms that their cyber-security agents will get inside our e-mail only after they pry our cold, dead hands away from our keypads.


http://www.canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/10134


FOR THOSE OF YOU SO OPPOSED TO BUSHES "UN-CONSTITUTIONAL" PROGRAMS, WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THIS? IF YOU DON'T LIKE THIS ARTICLE OR FEEL IT'S AN UNRELIABLE SOURCE, FIND ANOTHER ONE, THERE ARE PLENTY OF STORIES COVERING THIS ISSUE.
 

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Looks to me like a poorly written, hastily compiled, overreaching bill. Seems that the IT security folks acknowledge that steps need to be taken, but this probably isn't the best legislation: What Will the Cybersecurity Act of 2009 Do to Your Job and Business?

I think it's a little hysterical to call it the equivalent of "warrantless wiretapping on steroids". The caveat (though undefined) is that Federal control of critical systems would take place only in the event of a cyber attack. There is no established process in that realm that says "the government steps in when X happens". And it seems that even the IT folks thing there should be a process in place, although this law is probably not the best piece of legislation.

Bush implemented the warrantless wiretapping program in defiance of an already-established court process (FISA) in a way that clearly was unnecessary. And Bush's program was implemented in total secrecy and circumvented oversight by Congress - this one can be examined by anyone. To me, that's a pretty big difference.
 

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Granick raises some valid privacy concerns, and this bill needs some serious amendments. I consider the EFF a credible civil liberties group. The website you linked to, on the other hand, is a comical collection of paranoid ravings.
 
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