Public Policy and Information Technology: The Need for Privacy Vs. Security


By Kevin Coleman -- Defense Tech Cyberwarfare Correspondent

The debate over cyber warfare has now risen to new levels of debate. The debate over public policy as it relates to information technology is now center stage and that is occurring in several countries around the world. While some countries brush off the right to electronic privacy, activists and privacy champions are working feverishly to maintain a reasonable level of privacy for online users. Countering their arguments are information technology security practitioners and nations cyber security experts.

What seems to get lost here is that many times, the same security practices that those on the privacy side object to, are the same technologies that detect when someone’s identity and privacy has been compromised. Additionaly, the tools and techniques that are used to commit cyber crimes are often used to attack the critical infrastructure of nations as well as to compromise the informational and operational integrity of the military and intelligence community.

There is much room for improvement on both sides of this debate. Privacy advocates should take a much harder line and become much more verbal over the cyber crime epidemic and the lack of international cooperation and collaboration needed for cyber incident investigations as well as policy and regulatory actions. The national security and law enforcement sides need to collaborate and cooperate as well. There have been multiple instances where this side knows of breaches, threats and criminal activities and that intelligence is not passed along because it is said to be “Classified.” It has been my experience that, often than not, you can pass pieces of derivate intelligence along without compromising the classified information or its source.

For some reason individuals and groups on both sides of the debate have opted for an adversarial approach about this subject. Both sides should concentrate on the true enemy here. Both sides need to give on this because it is clear what we are doing now is not working well. Cyber crime continues to grow as does cyber espionage and malicious activities that attack personal information and compromise our privacy. Finally, both sides need to put pressure on the tech sector and regulators and DEMAND harsher laws, more resources for cyber investigations, as well as new products and services that increase the integrity of their systems and safeguard sensitive information. So much more can be achieved when we work together against the common enemy rather than working against each other.


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