Save us from vague legal ‘clarifications’ please

Just read an article on the proposed US Senate Rockefeller/Snowe bipartisan bill attempting to ‘clarify’ the legal powers of the President to seize and control various computer networks, public or private, as part of the emergency powers of the Presidency.  Complete with fuzzy language as to what identifies a ‘key network’ or critical system, a set of requirements for government certification in cybersecurity measures (in spite of the government’s inability to fill currently open roles in the realm of cybersecurity posts created by the Obama administration), as well as legal language insisting that those key networks include staff certified by the Federal program.

Not a good mixture. Read the original CNET blog post about it.

Part of me likes the idea of defining the presidential powers and roles. But that part of me which likes the definitions is scared silly by the notion of vague language being used to assume powers and abuse privacy by future Presidents to come based on a technicality. We need the language to be specific, not broad, to establish criteria necessary for inclusion, to help clarify for private citizens which areas of the network carry additional responsibilities to the group as a whole.

Public policy on the internet is fascinating stuff, if only because it looks so very much like watching a train wreck in slow motion. I’m a bad citizen of the US because I don’t even pretend to know where my voice will matter much to begin to make my opinions heard as part of the public policy debate. Or why anyone should listen to me.


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