Wednesday, April 08, 2009

fear, uncertainty, doubt - CONTROL

In the news this morning;

Reuters | Cyberspies have penetrated the U.S. electrical grid and left behind software programs that could be used to disrupt the system, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.
The spies came from China, Russia and other countries, and were believed to be on a mission to navigate the U.S. electrical system and its controls, the newspaper said, citing current and former U.S. national security officials.

The intruders have not sought to damage the power grid or other key infrastructure but officials said they could try during a crisis or war, the paper said in a report on its website.

"The Chinese have attempted to map our infrastructure, such as the electrical grid," a senior intelligence official told the Journal. "So have the Russians."

The espionage appeared pervasive across the United States and does not target a particular company or region, said a former Department of Homeland Security official.

"There are intrusions, and they are growing," the former official told the paper, referring to electrical systems. "There were a lot last year."
This should by no means be considered new news. As Deputy Attorney General, Jamie Gorelick sought sweeping Federal access to digital communications on behalf of the Clinton Administration. So this longstanding elite ambition, i.e., of controlling and accessing the only truly democratic technology infrastructure in the world continues unabated.

According to Mother Jones, Senators John Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) think so. On Wednesday they introduced a bill to establish the Office of the National Cybersecurity Advisor—an arm of the executive branch that would have vast power to monitor and control Internet traffic to protect against threats to critical cyber infrastructure. That broad power is rattling some civil libertarians.

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 does not only add to the power of the president. 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.

Rockefeller made cybersecurity one of his key issues as a member of the Senate intelligence committee, which he chaired until last year. He now heads the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which will take up this bill.

"We must protect our critical infrastructure at all costs—from our water to our electricity, to banking, traffic lights and electronic health records—the list goes on," Rockefeller said in a statement. Snowe echoed her colleague, saying, "if we fail to take swift action, we, regrettably, risk a cyber-Katrina."

This is the typical buildup of fear, uncertainty, and doubt that inevitably accompanies ham-handed attempts by the political establishment to legislate and thereby legitimate sweeping powers to access and control the democratically and organically distributed Internet infrastructure. It's not as if they could ever accomplish such an objective, however, they consistently and perennially seek to grant themselves the perogative to try. As with prior attempts in this direction, this attempt is worth watching to determine its outcome.