There was a time when the NSA would not know the content of this sentence minutes (or depending on the speed of typing, hours) ahead of our general readership. Those days are now gone, primarily thanks to the Patriot Act, which however merely accelerated the inevitable Orwellian destination to which American society was otherwise headed and which made constant "supervision" and "vigilance" of every US citizen a necessity (for some eyewatering details read “We Are This Far From A Turnkey Totalitarian State" - Big Brother Goes Live September 2013). There was, however, one aspect of society over which the US government did not have Chinese-type "firewall" supreme authority: the Internet. Now, as a result of an Executive Order being quietly drafted, the president of this once great country, together with the Department of Homeland Security formed in response to the events of September 11, is about to grasp supreme control over this last bastion of New Normal expression and content dissemination, naturally under the guise of protecting the people. Because as Bloomberg reports, President Obama’s administration is drafting an executive order that would create a program protecting vital computer networks from cyber attacks.
The premise: the US government needs to defend the feeble and defenseless private sector from all enemies, foreign and domestic, because, it would appear, the private sector is incapable of defending itself. And Uncle Sam is more than happy to supervise and take charge of said "defense." “An executive order is one of a number of measures we’re considering as we look to implement the president’s direction to do absolutely everything we can to better protect our nation against today’s cyberthreats,” White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in an e-mailed statement today. “We are not going to comment on ongoing internal deliberations.” Also, did we mention that the US president's decision for the greater private good would be unilaterally imposed, without the benefit of a democratic vote: after all executive orders, of the type Obama has issued 134 so far, do just that: circumvent the popular vote. We did? Good.
The draft, which remains under review and could change, seeks to implement a key provision in a cybersecurity bill that failed to advance in the Senate last month, the officials said. The administration is contemplating using an executive order because it isn’t clear Congress would pass a cybersecurity bill.
The draft calls for the Department of Homeland Security to create a council that would work with the National Institute of Standards and Technology to establish the cybersecurity standards, the officials said.
While the program contemplated in the draft order would be voluntary, the Homeland Security Department would require companies participating in it to submit reports describing how they are protecting their networks, the official said.
The lack of incentives and the requirement for reports could undermine the willingness of companies to participate in the program, the official added.
John Brennan, Obama’s counterterrorism adviser, said on Aug. 8 the administration would consider taking executive action to protect computer networks.
“If the Congress is not going to act on something like this, then the president wants to make sure that we’re doing everything possible,” Brennan said.
The pretext: Weapons of Mass Cyberdestruction. And only Obama, in conjunction with the US government, but absent a democratic vote, can prevent an all out onslaught:
Senate Republicans and business groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce blocked the cybersecurity bill. They said the voluntary standards would be a back door to government regulation of companies. The bill was sponsored by Senators Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, and Susan Collins, a Maine Republican.
Brennan said opponents misrepresented the bill, which he said called for minimum performance standards.
“Believe me, the critical infrastructure of this country is under threat,” Brennan said, adding that foreign states and hackers “are developing advanced technologies, and we have to improve our defenses on this issue.”
Obama could accomplish many objectives of the Lieberman- Collins bill with an executive order or other directive, Stewart Baker, a former assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Homeland Security, said in an interview last month.
The real purpose:
Matthew Eggers, senior director of national security at the Chamber of Commerce, has said an executive order would be counterproductive and would show the administration wants to regulate cybersecurity.
The Obama administration is already circulating a draft presidential directive dealing with a related issue: collecting and disseminating information about cybersecurity threats. That reflects “early” discussions about how to update a 2003 directive for protecting the most critical U.S. assets and “is not close to being done,” Hayden said on Aug. 29.
In other words, it will be up to the government to intermediate in isolating and determining threats: for example... anyone with a computer and an Internet connection. And it will be up to the government to deal with said threat cleanly, quietly and efficiently.
Sadly George Orwell is long dead. But if he wasn't, we have some ideas what the sequel to 1984 would be titled.
In the meantime, we, together with various government bureaucrats, are already wondering what the first false cyberflag attack on US soil will be.