U.S. Drafting Plan for Computer Monitoring System

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From today's NYTimes:


Big Snips...

"The Clinton Administration has developed a plan for an extensive computer monitoring system, overseen by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to protect the nation's crucial data networks from intruders.

The plan, an outgrowth of the Administration's anti-terrorism program, has already raised concerns from civil liberties groups.

A draft prepared by officials at the National Security Council last month, which was provided to The New York Times by a civil liberties group, calls for a sophisticated software system to monitor activities on nonmilitary Government networks and a separate system to track networks used in crucial industries like banking, telecommunications and transportation.

The effort, whose details are still being debated within the Administration, is intended to alert law enforcement officials to attacks that might cripple Government operations or the nation's economy.

But because of the increasing power of the nation's computers and their emerging role as a backbone of the country's commerce, politics and culture, critics of the proposed system say it could become a building block for a surveillance infrastructure with great potential for misuse.

They also argue that such a network of monitoring programs could itself be open to security breaches, giving intruders or unauthorized users a vast window into Government and corporate computer systems.

Government officials said the changing nature of military threats in the information age had altered the nature of national security concerns and created a new sense of urgency to protect the nation's information infrastructure.

"Our concern about an organized cyberattack has escalated dramatically," Jeffrey Hunker, the National Security Council's director of information protection, who is overseeing the plan, said Tuesday. "We do know of a number of hostile foreign governments that are developing sophisticated and well-organized offensive cyber attack capabilities, and we have good reason to believe that terrorists may be developing similar capabilities..."

(The article then goes on to describe how this system would work, which I don't need to reprint here...)

The plan was created in response to a Presidential directive in May 1998 requiring the Executive Branch to review the vulnerabilities of the Federal Government's computer systems in order to become a "model of information and security."

In a cover letter to the draft Clinton writes: "A concerted attack on the computers of any one of our key economic sectors or Governmental agencies could have catastrophic effects."

But the plan strikes at the heart of a growing controversy over how to protect the nation's computer systems while also protecting civil liberties -- particularly since it would put a new and powerful tool into the hands of the F.B.I..."

Interesting week for this kind of stuff, huh? It feels to me like they are subtly (or not so subtly) "preparing" us with this mindset...

-- pshannon (pshannon@inch.com), July 28, 1999


Patrick, This is where the liberal mindset coincides with the far right militia types. We must not go there! (Not that we'll be able to.) At junctures like this, one might even feel that the downfall of "civilization" might have its upside.

-- Mara Wayne (MaraWayne@aol.com), July 28, 1999.

And they call ME paranoid! It brings to mind the CIA definition:


-- Mad Monk (madmonk@hawaiian.net), July 28, 1999.

Didn't this movie already come out on video? I certainly enjoyed Gene Hackman in it, and Will Smith did an OK job (not sure I completely bought him as a successful labor lawyer). Nice cameo by Jason Robards as the senator who gets bumped off by Jon Voight's loose-cannon NSA operatives. That whole plotline about "legislation to protect the US via increased electronic surveillance" was a bit far-fetched, though.

What? This is actually a proposal from the current finger-wagging, Chinese-money-laundering, Internet-inventing administration?

Lord help us all.

-- Mac (sneak@lurk.hid), July 28, 1999.

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