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Defending the Internet: National Security v. Big Brother

Tony Bradley | Aug. 30, 2010
The Pentagon recognizes the rapidly growing digital threat to the United States

Finding Balance

Lynn explains "Cyberattacks offer a means for potential adversaries to overcome overwhelming U.S. advantages in conventional military power and to do so in ways that are instantaneous and exceedingly hard to trace. Such attacks may not cause the mass casualties of a nuclear strike, but they could paralyze U.S. society all the same. In the long run, hackers' systematic penetration of U.S. universities and businesses could rob the United States of its intellectual property and competitive edge in the global economy."

Any time the issue of government oversight comes up--whether in the financial industry, or for broadband communications--some portion of the population cries "Big Brother" and declares that the government just wants power and control. While that may be a real concern on some level, it has to be balanced with the need for national security.

The reality is that many private business interests are an integral part of the critical infrastructure that the United States relies on for defense, commerce, communications, and other vital interests. The government should not control those interests, but the Pentagon has a vested interest in monitoring the digital security of servers and networks within those interests in order to fulfill its mission.

Rather than taking either extreme--military spying on everything in the interest of national security or spying on nothing to preserve freedom and liberty--an effective defense of US digital interests is best served by public and private sector interests working cooperatively for the greater good. Businesses should not accept frivolous government monitoring, but should understand that protecting America requires a balance between liberty and security.


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