The Center for Strategic and International Studies, whose chairman is Obama advisor Sam Nunn and whose President and CEO is John J Hamre, who was a possible candidate for Secretary of Defense under Obama. One of the members of the board of trustees is our old friend and Obama advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski. The report's recommendations are unsurprisingly expected to be fast tracked through the Obama administration.
To quote the New York Times story,
The report, which offers guidance to the Obama administration, is a strong indictment of government and private industry efforts to secure cyberspace to date. “The laissez-faire approach to cyber-security has failed,” Mr. Kellermann said.
So naturally it's time to stop all that laissez-faire internet, and crack the whip.
The report's recommendations emphasize taking away cybersecurity from DHS in order to create a special department to oversee cybersecurity. It recommends ending the division between civilian and national security systems. And calls for establishing "international norms" when it comes to the internet.
And it focuses a good deal on identity verification, not just for Federal employees, but for ordinary Americans as well.
The report urges a move away from passwords, and toward physical identity verification, via a device that would verify an individual's identity. And calls for "government issued credentials" to be used by consumers.
From Page 14 of the report.
17. The United States should allow consumers to use strong government-issued credentials (or commercially issued credentials based on them) for online activities.
Under the Bush Administration such a proposal would have produced hysterical rhetoric from the press and the left. Now they think that license plates coming to cyberspace is a fantastic idea.
The report proposes a model that would have consumers use Federally issued credentials for online transactions, in the way that some businesses currently require driver's licenses and social security numbers for commercial transactions, with businesses choosing to downgrade customers who refuse to use it.
Of course the information would now instead be stored by the government in one central location. And authentication online is used for everything from email to logging in to your blog. The report pays a good deal of lip service to talk about civil liberties, but its approach is a formula for a civil liberties nightmare.
The report suggests that such government authentication should be reserved for "high risk" areas, but just about any password protected online service is high risk. Companies such as Google and Microsoft merge accounts for paid transaction and unpaid personal services.
The implications of this kind of centralization are painfully obvious. It would put everyone's virtual housekeys in the hands of the government. More so than Bill Clinton's Carnivore program already did. This means
giving government unprecedented control over online free speech. It would mean the end of whistleblowers and the beginning of a dark shadow falling over the internet.
What is more disturbing than just the report itself, is the uncritical acceptance that is it receiving, as well as the confidence that it will be fast tracked by Obama.
The report's most dangerous aspect is that it conflates government cybersecurity with commercial cybersecurity and even individual cybersecurity, and pushes Federal control and authentication as the solution for all three. By treating the security of private companies as a matter of national security, and by extension that of individual internet users, the report paves the way for government control over all aspects of public and private internet use.
No one is questioning the report's premise that the government should take the lead from private companies in maintaining online security, despite the fact that private companies have demonstrated a better ability and toolkit for protecting their networks, than the government has.
Federal centralization would actually weaken internet security, but would allow greater government oversight over the internet and would allow Obama to suppress civil liberties and free speech on the internet. Which is the real goal here.
The consolidation of business interests under government control is a big part of the Obama agenda, mirroring what Putin has done. The CSIS report follows this same approach to the internet. And like the rest of the Obama agenda, it is a fundamental threat to Civil Liberties and the American way of life.