15 September 2012, 12:26

US administration wants total control in cyberspace

US administration wants total control in cyberspace

The recent upheavals in the world have taken attention away from a very important move by US President Obama that could strip away another large chunk of freedom from Americans and place another huge and important piece of the public domain under government and corporate control. President Obama has circulated an executive order that will implement measures that have already failed to pass Congress and were contained in the failed Cybersecurity Act of 2012. Again the pretense for stripping away freedoms is “security” and again the attackers are China and Russia.

Whenever the US issues another order or law regarding “security” the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. Why? Because this means that even more rights and civil liberties will be stripped away from the people and even more power will be had by the government.

Reports say that the Obama Administration is currently drafting what is called in the US, an executive order, giving the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) the power and the responsibility to establish standards of cybersecurity that would protect banks, water plants, telecommunication networks and the U.S. power grid from electronic attacks.

On the surface and to those who know little about the real cyber attacks, the program dubbed Perfect Citizen, looks like something that is needed and should have been implemented yesterday, but hold on a minute, the devil is in the details and in who is behind the plans, namely the most secret of the secret US Security structures, the National Security Agency or NSA.

The problem with that for US citizens and in general is that it would give an intelligence agency control over a public system which may be an area of expertise by the NSA, responsible for signals and electronic security, but goes against the NSA directive not to spy on US citizens.

The plan which has wide-ranging implications and will basically allow the government to take control over the electronic grid, and this includes the internet, is deemed necessary by its proponents because the power grid of the United States is supposedly vulnerable and under constant cyber-attack. However this is far from the truth.

According to Michael Tanji over at Wired, first of all the networks in question, power grids and the public water supply systems are rarely if ever connected to wide area networks and the public internet. Secondly the operating and control systems they use are often proprietary, meaning they have no publically or even privately available analogues that are available and accessible to the public or to hackers who can reverse engineer them and find weaknesses or vulnerabilities that they can exploit.

So the law is not needed and the rationale behind it is false then why attempt to pass the law, bypassing the legislative branch, by using an executive order to do so? First of all because a similar bill failed to be passed into law earlier this year and second of all for the reason I have already stated, it would allow the US Government to take control of the internet and the public electronic grid which includes almost all forms of modern communications.

According to propaganda put out by the continuously more powerful Department of Homeland Security there are constant attacks that target everything from the US power grid to nuclear power plants.

Even scarier is information being disseminated by the National Security Agency itself. A report published by Reuters quotes the head of NSA's Information Assurance Directorate, Debora Plunkett when asked how real the threat of hacking from China, Russia and other countries was, as saying: "Significant. I don't know how else to describe it."

Even worse she said that: "Some of today's national cyber actors don't seem to be bound by any sense of restraint." Meaning state sponsored cyber-attacks are out of control and state actors behave recklessly.

Again the White House is demonizing China and Russia which they claim are attempting to commit computer espionage in a wide range of areas and for wide ranging reasons. This and other false propaganda about massive attacks on critical infrastructure is designed to terrify the American populace into giving away even more of their freedoms and rights, yet despite this the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 failed and there are not public cries begging for more “protection”.

According to the US media the Obama executive order bears a striking resemblance to the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 which failed to be passed by Congress. Many also say that an executive order in this instance violates Article 1, Section 1 of the US Constitution which says: “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” Nowhere in the US Constitution does it say that if a bill is not passed the president can single-handedly decide to make a law himself.

The practice of using executive orders is a controversial one which many see as a tool of an “Imperial President” as they allow the president to unilaterally and without oversight or public debate pass laws that may not be in the public interest. Former US President George Bush was famous for issues such orders many making crimes such as torture illegal after the fact and other designed to protect him and his administration from bothersome oversight, such as an executive order limited access to presidential papers.

The greatest fear regarding this executive order is that a partnership between the government and corporations under the guise of “security” to jointly control the entire US electronic grid is a step to merging corporate and state power, a condition which is better known as corporate fascism.

There may be a real threat here, but the question lies, from where?

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