Fiat, It’s What’s For Dinner

Disclaimer: this post is not about a political party but about something much bigger.

It seems the White House is not satisfied with the defeat of SOPA and PIPA:

There Is No Need For A Cybersecurity Executive Order

Since the collapse of the Congressional attempt to pass the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 there has been mounting pressure for the Obama Administration to “do something”, that something being the imposition of a regulatory regime to protect critical infrastructure. But the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 failed because it was fatally flawed.

On Friday, Federal News Radio reported that they had obtained a copy of a proposed Executive Order that would attempt, through executive fiat – as Steve Bucci at the Heritage Foundation terms it– to impose most of the measures called for by Senators Lieberman and Collins.

Bucci raises an important point:

“[Regulation] is exactly the wrong approach for dealing with a fast-moving and incredibly dynamic field like cybersecurity. Give hackers—whether working for themselves or for another nation-state—a static standard, and they will waltz around it and have their way with the target entity.”

Congress has gone through several dozen cybersecurity bills in the last three years, not to mention the failed attempt to pass a data breach law which dates back to 2005. Even as they revise and re-write, there have been dramatic changes in the defensive posture of our critical infrastructure providers. Effective changes.

Let’s look at the proposed Executive Order as revealed by Federal news Radio. There are ten sections of the draft. Most of them call for nebulous voluntary information sharing or requirements that DHS create frameworks within three months. I can just see the scramble that will occur, and the watered down frameworks that will result, after multiple extensions to the due date are granted.

Read the rest here

I have many thoughts about this issue. I’ll spare you most of them. But I will say that it’s interesting how there is no hue and cry from the mainstream press over this potentially far reaching access to private information, and especially when I consider the righteous indignation exhibited when the Bush administration obtained phone records without a narrowly defined court order.

And for the record (again), I have not been a fan of the Homeland Security Act from its beginning. Sadly, Homeland will probably surf my site since I’ve said this, and it wouldn’t be the first time. Shaking my head as I write this because I know others who have experienced the same but feel skittish to talk about it. What the hell is our country coming to?


  1. Good post, and I’m on the same page with you on this.

    It’s frightening.


  2. Sadly, there are those who will dismiss my piece as nothing but a biased knee jerk rant. Well, I guess I am biased, since I’m predisposed to dislike the government using intimidating tactics to inhibit political speech and do not understand why Homeland has so much power in a country with the Bill of Rights. I am sincere when I say they have surfed my site, and it was not because someone working there likes our particular Richard Armitage. They have only surfed when I say something political. This has also happened to others I know. It is bullshit plain and simple, but some are so married to their political parties that they can’t see what’s happening.

  3. I got to thinking some more this morning about this … and as ludicrous as this is going to sound … OK, I’m half-joking and half-serious, but mostly serious …

    There is another reason Homeland Security could be surfing your site.

    You keep mentioning a guy with a certain name. Not going to say WHO, but here’s a little photo:


    Maybe they really think you’re stalking THIS guy.


    OK, but yes. I’m being serious.

    Honestly, the Homeland Security thing has always given me the creeps, just like the fact that now Lexington, Kentucky, has those same creepy cameras on the street corners that we see in Spooks on the streets in London. I positively knee-jerk into my conspiracy-watch-out-for-Big-Brother-American-freedom-of-the-press mindset with that stuff.

  4. Almost two years ago when my blog was surfed for the first time, I consigned it to the Richard L. phenomenon. Either that or someone at Homeland likes Richard C.

    But since then I’ve become technical support for several sites which have nothing to do with either Richard Armitage or politics that have also been surfed when they posted something political on occasion AND specifically when it was a viewpoint at odds with the White House.

    Interestingly, Homeland could surf sites legally without being seen, but they choose not to, which tells me they want to be seen and send a message by doing so. And I think that message has effectively quelled much public speech about this. How do I know that? Not only have I witnessed the surfing myself, but anytime I mention this going on I get notes from people talking about it happening to them but not wanting to say that publicly. That’s happening again with this piece.

    I hope that whomever this happens to you have the foresight to screencap your ip log and complain to your representatives and maybe more than your representatives.

    The good news is a class action suit against Homeland surfing sites in which the plaintiffs were able to get an order from the judge to force Homeland to cough up the keyword list used. That’s some progress, but if this executive order goes through, it will be moot.

    Why more people aren’t concerned about this I don’t understand, and where is the NY Times, Washington Post, etc. in talking about a questionable precedent? Huh? Where are they?

  5. Frenz, have you reported this to your Congressman or Senator? I realize you’re just one person, but it would be worth it to just get it on record what happens with them scouring your site like that. That’s just ridiculous.

    And you’re right. There isn’t enough out there about this. I suspect it’s because most people don’t understand it, and they sort of glaze over. Times like this make me wish I was back in a traditional newsroom again. It definitely needs to be covered more extensively. The editors of America are collectively dropping the ball.

  6. Finally had time to read this w/some comprehension. I too, have been checked out by Homeland Security at my blog. Weird how that happened the same day I posted an anti-government/Big Brother type comment…on someone else’s blog! That’s when they came to my blog to see what no-good things I was up to. Seriously? My little podunk blog?

    Someone has too much time on their hands. And yes, this is getting serious. What will be done between now and Jan.? I shudder to think…

  7. I posted my concern (not as Frenz) on a liberal and a conservative site and was met with yawns. On the conservative site, I was told, “Sites are public, and there should be no problem with them [Homeland] surfing to analyze for threats.” My reply, “So if every time you say something political in public a Homeland Security agent walks up to listen would be fine since they’re just analyzing for threats?”

    I was also told that executive orders don’t mean much since they can be rescinded by the next president. That’s true, but the cavalier view of the short term damage and the dangerous precedent they could be set is stunning.

    Just one abuse of executive order: internment of Japanese Americans during WWII.

    And we’re going to sit idly by and watch the government set a precedent for hovering over us and acquiring our private information without a court order? Oh well, I guess if it means we’re “safe,” then it’s good.

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