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New CyberSecurity Bill Raises Privacy Questions 319

Posted by kdawson
from the picture-future-presidents dept.
Nicolas Dawson points out coverage in Mother Jones of the early stages of a new cybersecurity bill that conveys sweeping powers on the President. Quoting: "The Cybersecurity Act of 2009 (PDF) gives the president the ability to 'declare a cybersecurity emergency' and shut down or limit Internet traffic in any 'critical' information network 'in the interest of national security.' The bill does not define a critical information network or a cybersecurity emergency. That definition would be left to the president. The bill ... also grants the Secretary of Commerce 'access to all relevant data concerning [critical] networks without regard to any provision of law, regulation, rule, or policy restricting such access.' This means he or she can monitor or access any data on private or public networks without regard to privacy laws."
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New CyberSecurity Bill Raises Privacy Questions

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  • "in soviet america..." jokes

    • by Tackhead (54550)
      I believe now is an appropriate time to cue the... "in soviet america..." jokes

      In Soviet Russia, you listened to kremvax. [catb.org]
      In Soviet America, nsavax listens to you.

      Democracy is the theory that the people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard. We wanted a government that listened to the people...

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      I believe now is an appropriate time to cue the "in soviet america..." jokes

      If this bill is enacted, what keeps the president from permanently shutting down access to certain "harmful things" just like the great firewall of China?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by tripdizzle (1386273)

        Nothing, anything can be deemed "critical" (kind of like "too big to fail") because there are no stipulations on the term critical.

        Such as "We must shut down access to porn sites because it is critical to the morals of our society."

        Not specifically saying he would do that (although future administrations might with this power) its just the first thing that came to mind.

        (Yes, I said it, porn was the first thing to come to mind)

  • by johnncyber (1478117) on Friday April 03, 2009 @01:51PM (#27448245)
    ...it's just a piece of paper anyways.
    • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Friday April 03, 2009 @02:00PM (#27448379) Homepage Journal

      access to all relevant data concerning [critical] networks without regard to any provision of law, regulation, rule, or policy restricting such access.

      In other words, it's not illegal when the Secretary of Commerce (a Presidentially appointed position) does it, of course. So they can lock YOU up for accessing data you're not supposed to have, but when the Secretary of Commerce does it, it's just hunky dory.

      Yep. Who needs the Constitution? It's archaic!

      Now I see why so many people become anarchists... ;)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Well, Presidential appointees don't seem to pay any taxes either and the last time I checked that was also illegal. More of the same 'do as I say, not as do.'

        • by jgtg32a (1173373)
          You sound surprised.
          The DMCA was written with exceptions for the government.

          http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2008/08/air-force-cracks-software-carpet-bombs-dmca.ars
        • by Jherek Carnelian (831679) on Friday April 03, 2009 @03:32PM (#27449883)

          Well, Presidential appointees don't seem to pay any taxes either and the last time I checked that was also illegal. More of the same 'do as I say, not as do.'

          No, you missed the point. The only way to get these guys to pay their taxes is for the president to appoint them to office.
          So far Obama has a 100% success record in collecting from these guys.
          He's not "the uniter," nor is he "the decider," Obama is "the collector."

      • by ajs (35943) <ajs@@@ajs...com> on Friday April 03, 2009 @03:11PM (#27449477) Homepage Journal

        I read this very differently, and I think this is just the case of a VERY bad Slashdot summary and a terminology barrier between the government and the geek community. "Data" doesn't appear to indicate live bits streaming over networks, here. I think this is saying, "relevant data" and meaning "information relevant to understanding the topology of critical networks." That is, if you run a backbone in the US you have to tell the Feds about it and give them specs.

        As the Net becomes more of a critical piece of US infrastructure, I don't think that's terribly unreasonable.

        Now, if someone can demonstrate that this is being pushed as a way to snoop on packets without a warrant, I'll stand corrected, but it just doesn't read that way at all to me.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Bob9113 (14996)

        Now I see why so many people become anarchists... ;)

        Demanding that our government respect the principles of our nation is not anarchic. It is Constitutional conservatism. It is patriotism.

  • Ok your seriously late now. April fools day was 2 days ago.

  • by isotope23 (210590) on Friday April 03, 2009 @01:56PM (#27448317) Homepage Journal

    You can take my connection from my cold dead SANs!!!!

    Or

    All yer Pix is belong to U.S.

    Or

    HSRP - Homeland Security Routing Protocol

    Or

    TCP/IP - Total Control President/Internet Precedent

  • by notarockstar1979 (1521239) on Friday April 03, 2009 @01:58PM (#27448327) Journal
    I want to know who in the unholiest of hells thinks this is a good idea? Even if critical networks and cybersecurity emergency were defined, what the gives them the right? The language scares me to death. The existing laws are there for a purpose. To create a law that circumvents them on a whim, even if it's a whim that has to be defended later, is total bull.

    I have been fighting encrypting everything I do for a while now because I had hopes it wouldn't be necessary. Now I see that there is a chance it might be after all.
    • I want to know who in the unholiest of hells thinks this is a good idea?

      anti terror legislation advocates. Anyone in doubt as to what the feds would do with the W.O.T have their answer; expansion of power.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by needs2bfree (1256494)
        Does it not strike anyone as ironic that we should be more afraid of the anti terror legislation advocates than the terrorists? Reminds me of a saying, something along the lines of If you set out to destroy all evil...
    • by netruner (588721)
      There is a need for something but this goes way too far and is way too vague. Someone needs to be able to shut down something like, say, a DDOS attack against the NYSE trading network - that's a national security issue. Likewise, if someone's hacking the newtworks that link our satellites to the Pentagon, someone needs to have the power to make that stop immediately.

      However, someone attacking the link between Youtube and the building where the congress's staffers have their offices can be handles with t
      • by Applekid (993327)

        There is a need for something but this goes way too far and is way too vague. Someone needs to be able to shut down something like, say, a DDOS attack against the NYSE trading network - that's a national security issue. Likewise, if someone's hacking the newtworks that link our satellites to the Pentagon, someone needs to have the power to make that stop immediately.

        And so the wording on the bill should reflect these few and constrained cases where it would be warranted, instead of leaving it open to anyone's interpretation.

    • by EastCoastSurfer (310758) on Friday April 03, 2009 @02:24PM (#27448831)

      I want to know who in the unholiest of hells thinks this is a good idea? Even if critical companies and financial emergency were defined, what the gives them the right? The language scares me to death. The existing laws are there for a purpose. To create a law that circumvents them on a whim, even if it's a whim that has to be defended later, is total bull.

      Emphasis and replacement mine. This is the EXACT same power they want to give to the treasury secretary to be able to unilaterally, on a whim, take over companies when some undocumented criteria are met.

    • by tripdizzle (1386273) on Friday April 03, 2009 @03:06PM (#27449415)

      Agreed, how can we trust these people to take care of things that are this serious when they cant even get a ban on lead done right:

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/23/AR2009032301764.html [washingtonpost.com]

      They try to put a law in place to protect children from lead, and end up banning minibikes and used book sales, whose lead content is equal to about a glass of water.

      They mess up a simple lead ban with shitty wording, and we expect them to deal with such things as our privacy laws and national security. We need to get rid of every single sitting senator and house rep next time around, no matter party affiliation, get rid of them all.

  • *big sigh* (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nnnich (1454535)
    time to learn how to farm and make first person shooters out of sticks...

    honestly, how much more are you willing to take before you walk away from oppression?
  • One step forward, two steps back. Lets just turn around and look the other way.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      It doesn't; however there isn't a lot of money in showing people good news, or pointing out they are pretty much safe and nothing really relevant to them has happened.

  • Route Around Him (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 03, 2009 @01:59PM (#27448365)

    This is precisely what the Internet was designed to defend against. Let us continue to work to insure that the Internet will view the President as damage, and route around him in the event of an emergency.

    • by Seakip18 (1106315)

      It's going to be hard to route around when he has the power to disable connections at whim.

      Honestly, I'm reading through this and they manage to make comparisions about 9/11, except through a computer attack!

      Really, just read through the sources they based this off of and it's no wonder why they think they need to have such off the handle powers.

    • ... view the president as a route and damage him?

  • by Taibhsear (1286214) on Friday April 03, 2009 @02:03PM (#27448431)

    I think I speak for everyone here on slashdot when I say

    Fuck you!

    Define the terms in the bill. List the checks and balances in this that will prevent a tyrant from encroaching on our constitutional rights. The supreme court really needs to start looking into this shit and start hacking apart these bills and laws that infringe on our freedoms. If not, they need to be replaced with people who will.

    • by Oxy the moron (770724) on Friday April 03, 2009 @02:14PM (#27448625)

      If not, they need to be replaced with people who will.

      I'm a computer guy with only a basic understanding of government... but doesn't the President replace the judges? If he wants to wield that much power over peoples' rights, won't he just put more justices up there that support his power grabs?

      Also, I'm pretty sure the only way they get replaced is if they step down or... you know... die. I highly doubt they'll care about "getting replaced" in either of those situations.

      How lovely.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        See the Judiciary Reorganization Bill of 1937 [wikipedia.org]. FDR kept trying to ram his legislation through and the SCOTUS kept ruling it Unconstitutional. FDR, along with his Democratic majority in Congress, threatened to keep adding justices to the Supreme Court until they would rule the way he wanted them to.

        The threat was enough and the SCOTUS rolled over shortly thereafter, allowing a single party Congress/Executive to force Unconstitutional legislation through, unabated by the checks of the SCOTUS. Not long afte
    • by karmatic (776420)

      I think I speak for everyone here on slashdot when I say

      Fuck you!

      I do not use profanity, but I simply don't have any other adjectives which properly convey the contempt and abhorrence I have for this bill. So, let me echo my agreement with a simple yet resounding

      Fuck this bill!

      Don't fix it, don't define the terms, simply kill it - in committee, on the floor, with a veto - whatever is necessary.

      This bill is unneeded, and a very liberal interpretation would leave this way more invasive than the patriot act i

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 03, 2009 @02:05PM (#27448453)

    Shutting down the American network would hinder the whole world. Since a number of the backbones run through the states.
    Further more the government just made the biggest argument against cloud computing I have ever read. Your data lives online the goverment say oh noes cyber attack and shuts every non critical system down for weeks? months? what happens to you google docs homework or business files.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Ogive17 (691899)
      Screw that... how will I make it to my WoW raid on time?!?!

      Now where'd I put that pitchfork and torch?
  • Presidential ddos? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TinBromide (921574) on Friday April 03, 2009 @02:06PM (#27448471)
    1) Threaten national cyber-security
    2) President shuts down the national infrastructure
    3) ???
    4) Profit!

    Sounds to me like you don't even need to code a worm that is capable of shutting down the internet, all you have to do is make someone believe you have already done so and the president will do all the heavy lifting for you.
  • I think we are finally seeing Obama's "Change" he was talking about his entire campaign. I give him credit for running his entire campaign on the word "Change" and not explaing what changes he would make...
    Now America is paying for general stupidity. I find it interesting that the UK, France and Sweden all scorned Obama for all of this bailout money. By dumping all of this money into the economy he is undermining the basis of good business and capitalism.
    With this Bill we find Obama giving more and more pow

    • by fl!ptop (902193)

      I find it interesting that the UK, France and Sweden all scorned Obama for all of this bailout money

      they may have scorned him then, but he got a standing ovation from the press [theage.com.au] at the g20 summit. how quickly they've turned.

  • America! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Ohh, once so proud, once so free.. Ruled by fear, nothing else.. I feel for the true American people.. if there are any left..

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by halivar (535827)

      Real Americans exist, but everyone else is pretty much terrified of them. Rugged individualism and desire for self-determination are concepts that scare the average citizen, especially considering that the guarantors of these principles are scary guns.

  • by Logical Zebra (1423045) on Friday April 03, 2009 @02:13PM (#27448605)

    It is with great reluctance that I have agreed to this calling. I love democracy. I love the Republic. But I am mild by nature, and do not wish to see the destruction of democracy. The power you give me I will lay down when this crisis has abated.

    --Chancellor Palpatine

  • by stevew (4845) on Friday April 03, 2009 @02:14PM (#27448617) Journal

    You folks were up in arms about the loss of Privacy when the Bush administration was trying to spy on Terrorists calling into the country? Here you have a Democrat congress and a Democrat President who are going to be snooping into EVERYONE's business - let's have a little more energy - or one might think all the previous belly-aching about privacy was really just partisan nonsense????

    • by X86Daddy (446356)

      I've been seeing Slashdot posts "screaming" about this and other nasty things that've come about since Obama took office, as well as years ago when Clinton was in office. Hell, if you're gonna call the Slashdot crowd some kind of party follower, Libertarian is the obvious choice. Wait for the crickets to chirp when President Ron Paul III does something nasty in 2056. :-)

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by dcroxton (812365)
        Yeah, people are screaming, but no one is blaming the Democrats. I saw one post that attacked Obama, and it was marked as flamebait. All of the other posts were about how awful this idea is...without mentioning anyone by name, or even any particular parties (such as the one currently in control of White House and Congress).
    • by dirk (87083)

      1) I think there will be an appropriate amount of screaming about this (that is pretty much what this article is about.
      2) There is a huge difference between this and your example, and the levels of screaming will be different. That difference being this is a proposed bill that may pass and may be abused later (which still is bad) and Bush was actively abusing our rights. So while there will be outcry, it will be (and should be)less since this is still all theoretical at this point.

  • There is generally a lot of talk here on Slashdot (and all over the Internet) about the lack of protection of privacy for citizens in European (and Asian, for that matter) countries. This puts the good 'ol USA on par with the rest of 'em...

    When do I get my Web filter and CCTV camera? I need to be protected from terrorists! Who needs privacy.

    It all really comes down to the same problem with things like gun control, drug laws, and DRM- this sort of shit really just hurts honest, hard working people- criminals

  • by Markvs (17298) on Friday April 03, 2009 @02:20PM (#27448737) Journal
    Not only has this not been reported by any mainstream media source (AP/UPI/Reuters) or in any news source of record (WSJ, NY Times, et al), but that it's not listed on the Senate's website? Or that the PDF is a blank template without any names on it?

    Methinks \. caught a regurgitates April Fools blog entry a couple days late!
  • Isn't this the type of sweeping executive power in times of emergency was gave ultimate power to Hitler and the Soviet Premiers?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by rts008 (812749)

      Yes, it is.
      Yet it is also an old tactic, documented as far back as 656 A.D.[1]

      More insane politics have probably happened by way of "waving the bloody shirt" [wikipedia.org] than any other tactic.

      [1] From the above wiki link:

      The term "bloody shirt" can be traced back to the aftermath of the murder of the third Caliph, Uthman in 656 AD, when a bloody shirt and some hair alleged to be from his beard were used in what is widely regarded as a cynical ploy to gain support for revenge against opponents.

  • 'Nuff said.

  • by russotto (537200) on Friday April 03, 2009 @02:22PM (#27448789) Journal

    The headlined tyranny is only the start of the ugliness with this bill. The first part smells heavily of pig product, but it gets worse.

    Some lowlights:

    Section 5 introduces a 747-load of red tape related to "cybersecurity standards" for anyone doing business with the Federal Government.

    Section 6 goes beyond that and introduces some requirements for "private sector owned critical infrastructure information systems and networks". Which, if I'm reading it right, means the Feds get to dictate to e.g. Google (assuming someone classifies Google as critical) how they set up their networks and what software they run on it.

    Section 7 introduces a federal license for a "provider of cybersecurity services". All contractors and employees providing "cybersecurity services" on any Federal or designated network would be required to have these. Want to install antivirus software on some "critical" network? Sorry dude, need a license. *shudder*

    • It's not the start. It's the continuance.

      Every president accrues power to the office, and no president gives us the power of his predecessor, whatever side of the aisle they come from.

      The longer it goes, the worse it will get. It's the nature of the beast.

  • From TFA:

    It also grants the Secretary of Commerce "access to all relevant data concerning [critical] networks without regard to any provision of law, regulation, rule, or policy restricting such access." This means he or she can monitor or access any data on private or public networks without regard to privacy laws.

    No, what it says is that Sec Com could demand any information from any person anywhere in U.S. jurisdiction, so long as that information somehow "concerns" such networks.

    Overreach much?

  • Without all these corporate bastards and government authoritah wannabes.

  • by Povno (1460131)
    ...is that most people don't understand what this kind of thing means in terms of their own life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. It's not that they don't understand public or private networks, DNS, TCP/IP, or anything involving computers beyond their own desktop short cut to the family photos... but that they assume it's complicated techno babble and don't want to. They fail to see how it affects them personally; we will be called paranoid as we try to explain these implications. They know what the co
  • Wow I am so glad that Obama is so completely different from George Bush II.... oh wait...
  • cmon liberals. All you Bush bashers who hammered on this for 8 years. Speak up. Obama is now committing some of the same acts of privacy invasion as Bush was (rightly) accused of. Why isn't there more outcry here?

    This bill gives ridiculous dictitorial powers to the President. I for one think it should not be passed. I have big problems with giving this kind of power to the federal government.

  • by kindbud (90044) on Friday April 03, 2009 @02:46PM (#27449159) Homepage

    Not to rain on anybody's paranoia parade (OK, yes I am) but this is a [STAFF WORKING DRAFT] and has not been introduced to the Senate. It doesn't even have any sponsors. You won't find it on THOMAS, nor in the list of active legislation posted to senate.gov.

    • by Markvs (17298)
      True, but it was "reported" to be sponsored by Senators Snowe (R-Maine) and Rockefeller (D-WV) on some of the "news" outlets.
      Nevermind looking in Thomas, check out the Senate's Daily Digest for 1 April. Nothing there either.
      • by rpillala (583965)

        OH shit Rockefeller is a bastard. Rockefeller was the driving force behind telecom immunity. If any one person can be said to be the driving force behind something that had so much support in the rest of the legislature.

        Why would anyone in Congress want to expand executive power and cut itself out of the oversight? That doesn't even make self-interest sense.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by blcamp (211756)

      The very fact that ANYONE is WORKING ON THIS AT ALL, is what frightens the hell out of me.

      Why would such a document, even one in a draft status, exist?

    • by 1800maxim (702377) on Friday April 03, 2009 @03:43PM (#27450073)
      Right, wink, wink. It's a "working draft" with no sponsors until it magically passes with overwhelming support, quietly, with no mass media coverage. In fact, it could be a working draft precisely for people to leave it alone for the time being.

      The patriot act was rammed through.

      The Federal Reserve act of 1913 was rammed through during christmas break.

      I don't know how we still on slashdot manage to squabble over whether there is a bigger agenda, or whether these are all a series of innocently misapplied laws... Once we come to agree, it will be because it's too late.
  • Just a bill (Score:2, Insightful)

    by emudoug42 (977380)
    Doesn't anyone remember their schoolhouse rock? This is just a bill. Lots of bills get introduced. Most of them are terrible. This bill is still in committee. Hopefully someone there will be able to identify that this is a terrible idea, and that will be that. If it makes it to vote, you can bet I will be calling up my senators. That is unlikely, however. I'm not quite sure how Obama is getting lumped up in this. Has he come out in favor of this bill? If not, please stop with the ridiculous "Change we can
  • I don't know where to start with this, but I'd like to see the conversation happen: how is this similar or different from the power the government has to impose emergency control over radio and television? The Emergency Broadcast System, for example. Can someone with knowledge address this? Is there a precedent for this kind of control in other forms of media?

  • I welcome this proposed capability to openly damage the internet.

    Mesh networks and other decentralization will ensure ATT is no longer the gatekeeper.

  • grants the Secretary of Commerce access to all relevant data concerning [critical] networks without regard to any provision of law, regulation, rule, or policy restricting such access.' This means he or she can monitor or access any data on private or public networks without regard to privacy laws.

    No, that is not what that says or means. It says data about networks, not data on or transversing the network. It says the Secretary of Commerce will have access to things like IP addresses; bandwidth and capacity

  • As long as the President, PERSONALLY, does all the viewing of data, I'm not too concerned.

    Same goes for SecComm.

    I am completely against them sharing their findings though.

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