Obama reportedly signs classified cyberwarfare policy directive with troubling implications
By End the Lie
The Washington Post has reported that Obama himself signed a classified cyberwarfare policy directive, which is especially interesting given that the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 just failed on a 51-47 vote in the Senate, according to Hillicon Valley.
The Cybersecurity Act of 2012 met some early opposition among the likes of John McCain (who introduced his own legislation to compete) and apparently even with its prominent supporters it was not able to pass.
Yet the United States government is likely not at all concerned since Obama went ahead and signed a secret policy directive that “effectively enables the military to act more aggressively to thwart cyberattacks on the nation’s web of government and private computer networks,” according to The Washington Post.
Obviously the most interesting – and, arguably, alarming – bit of that statement is, “and private computer networks.”
This is especially interesting because the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of Fiscal Year 2012 actually included an offensive cyberwarfare provision, although it did not specifically state that private computer networks could be brought under government control.
Indeed, while the language of “defense” is regularly used, as it is in the above Washington Post article, one can quite easily notice that private networks would undoubtedly be placed, at least to some extent, in government hands, regardless of defense needs.
For those who have been paying attention, this prospect might seem especially troubling since the government can’t even manage to secure the American drone fleet or US Central Command systems.
Unfortunately, the Washington Post report is by no means unconfirmed and unreliable, as The Hill reported that a senior official in the Obama administration indeed confirmed that Obama signed a directive on “cyber operations.”
“This step is part of the administration’s focus on cybersecurity as a top priority,” the official said to The Hill. “The cyber threat has evolved since 2004, and we have new experiences to take into account.”
However, the official claimed that the directive does not give any new powers to federal agencies or the military; although we simply have to take his or her word for it since the directive itself is secret.
“The directive establishes principles and processes for the use of cyber operations so that cyber tools are integrated with the fully [sic] array of national security tools we have at our disposal,” said the official.
“It provides a whole-of-government approach consistent with the values that we promote domestically and internationally as we have previously articulated in the International Strategy for Cyberspace,” the official said.
One must wonder if “Plan X” being developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is at all related to what is being called Presidential Policy Directive 20.
“What [Presidential Policy Directive 20] does, really for the first time, is it explicitly talks about how we will use cyber operations,” an anonymous senior White House official said to The Washington Post.
“Network defense is what you’re doing inside your own networks. . . . Cyber-operations is stuff outside that space, and recognizing that you could be doing that for what might be called defensive purposes,” the official said.
However, apparently this isn’t entirely new since, according to the Post, it is an update of a 2004 presidential directive.
“It should enable people to arrive at more effective decisions,” said another unnamed senior official in the Obama administration cited by the Post. “In that sense, it’s an enormous step forward.”
What kind of a step forward will it be? Is this heading in a positive direction? Let us know by giving your feedback in the comments section.
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