Thursday, July 13, 2017

PRIVACY OR SECURITY: MUST WE CHOOSE?

I try not to get caught up in the hurly-burly of the 24 hour news cycle. I don't subscribe to the English-language television and radio options that are available to me here in France. Instead, I depend on the written word - on paper and online - giving me the ability to step back a bit and see if I can detect a bigger picture. So I skip over the latest Trump silliness. (No, we didn't meet with the Russians. Wait a minute. We did meet with the Russians but not about Clinton. Wait a minute. The Russians said that the meeting would be about Clinton, but it really wasn't.) I skip over the latest missteps by Theresa May and her gang of Brexiteers. (If you're an English-speaking expat in Europe, you know what I'm talking about.) And I only take passing notice of the latest Tour de France updates. (Is it me or are there more disabling crashes involving favorites this year than previous?)

If I don't worry about the latest political dustup that has everybody else on tenterhooks, what is it that causes me to pause and wonder about the fate of mankind? Trophy hunting? GMOs? Rogue ice shelves in the South Atlantic?

No. I'm worried about cyber security.

I'm not concerned about my bank account. It's simply too small to be noticed. And I've done what I can to prevent viruses and hijacking. I worry that the predictions of the sci-fi authors are coming true. If it is online, it's hackable. Therefore, it's public. And since everything is online, everything can be hacked. And everything is therefore public. Period. Our government has discovered that it can't keep secrets. WikiLeaks has become a fashionable social media hero. Folks applaud. Shine a light, they said.


That's when I began to worry. Not because my nude photos might be published. (Because there aren't any.) I began to worry because documents aren't the only things that are online. Ask Iran's nuclear scientists about Stuxnet. Better yet, ask the folks who run our own nuclear power plants. In case you missed it, they've been hacked. They're safe, we're told. Special technology. You can hack the company headquarters but you can't effect operations. Yeah, the Russians hacked us. But they couldn't get anywhere.

Yet...

And it's not just nuclear power. It's the entire power grid that I worry about. And the financial markets. And traffic lights. And flight controllers. And the machines that pack my toothpaste tubes. Once hacking became acceptable, even noble in certain circumstances, all bets were off.

That's why I am not a fan of WikiLeaks. And that's why I think Snowden is no role model. And that's why I want my NSA back. That's right. I want a well-funded, high-tech, black as a black hole government agency at my cyber back, protecting me against well-funded and well-fed North Korean hackers. Against Putin's former KGB buddies and their cyber-fluent successors. Against the neighbor's kid in his onesie in the basement. I want Tommy Lee Jones or Helen Mirren taking charge. I want the equivalent of a Sean Connery or Jason Bourne cyber-agent unleashed.

We are always fighting the last war. We had to build a modern armed forces from scratch to face the Japanese and the Germans 75 years ago because we thought that two oceans protected us. And now, we are spending $400 billion to build jet fighters that we won't be able to deploy if our Command and Control is hacked and useless.

I don't demand accountability. I demand safety. That means stepping on some Constitutional toes. And you know what? If it saves the world from planes falling out of the sky or lye getting injected into my toothpaste tube or the whole world getting a look at my naked selfies, I'm all for it.

For more of my political opinions, I keep a dedicated page HERE.





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