Posts Tagged National Security Agency
by: Rainey Reitman
Saturday, July 14, 2012
This week, comments from Democratic Senators, a panel of witnessses, and the director of the National Security Agency (NSA) called on the Senate to enact cybersecurity legislation. But a new poll shows that Americans don’t want to sacrifice civil liberties by allowing unfettered data exchanges between corporations and the government. Discussions this week were part of an effort to break the partisan stalemate over the Cybersecurity Act, a bill that would allow Internet companies to monitor the sensitive communications of users and pass that data to the government without any judicial oversight. The Cybersecurity Act would also give companies the right to “modify or block data packets” if they do it with “defensive intent,” while offering little in the way of liability for companies that overstep their authority.
In response to ongoing delays in passing the bill, backers of the Cybersecurity Act have been attempting to drum up fears about catastrophic cyberattacks. Yesterday, Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Richard Blumenthal called on the Senate to enact cybersecurity legislation despite the ongoing civil liberties concerns with the proposed legislation. Speaking to the Senate, Senator Blumenthal warned of doomsday scenarios, saying: “The consequences of a debilitating attack will be catastrophic for our nation.”
Speaking in a similar vein earlier this week, Army Gen. Keith Alexander, head of the Pentagon’s Cyber Command, gave a speech cautioning against potential terrorist cyberattacks and warned that, “The conflict is growing, the probability for crisis is mounting.” In response to civil liberties concerns, Alexander stated: “The reality is we can do protection of civil liberties and privacy and cybersecurity as a nation.” This is a particularly ironic statement because Alexander, as director of the NSA, oversees the warrantless surveillance program begun by the Bush Administration which collects en masse the Internet communications and communications records of millions of Americans (like browsing habits, emails, and chats).