Obama Signs Classified Directive in Regards to Cybersecurity

By on November 16, 2012
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by Ezra Van Auken

First reported by the Washington Post, it is now clear that US President Obama has signed off on a secretive order designed to put a tighter watch on online communications and more specifically, cyber threats. The initiative named “Presidential Policy Directive 20” was signed in the middle of October and had not been disclosed to the public until the Washington Post reported on it this week.

From what administration officials have displayed, the policy creates a wide range of guidelines to help operations of certain federal agencies, which will work to derail any cyber threats or attacks. US officials who have seen the classified documents aren’t able to allude to any other aspects of the new policy.

Obama’s directive also makes a distinction between a “network defense” and “cyber operations”. In addition, the directive makes sure any operations not within the government or defense networks are not violating US citizens or foreign allies’ privacy and data, along with following international laws of war.

An anonymous US official explained to the Post, “Network defense is what you’re doing inside your own networks…Cyber-operations is stuff outside that space, and recognizing that you could be doing that for what might be called defensive purposes.” The new directive basically enhances the original policy from 2004 under Bush’s term, which officials say is needed because cyber attacks could replace the common terrorist attack.

In summary, the directive asserts and sorts out what federal agencies will be working and taking action regarding cyber security, something many Americans have been weary about.

All of this has been happening as Google, the massive international company that provides internet services and products, has reported some startling statistics this week.

According to details, there are some 8,000 Google accounts as well as Gmail accounts that have been requested by the federal government to be seen in just the first six months of 2012. From January to June the US government filed 16,000 requests for information and it consisted of almost 8,000 individuals. “This is the sixth time we’ve released this data, and one trend has become clear: Government surveillance is on the rise,” an official Google blog post noted this past Tuesday.

However, Google said the federal government is not just interested in users’ information, but the government is also persistent about censoring or toning down talk on the web. The government wrote to Google on five separate occasions asking to take down certain YouTube videos, which were controversial to the government or law enforcement.

This year, NSA whistleblower Bill Binney explained at the Hackers On Planet Earth conference that the federal government is, “pulling together all the data about virtually every US citizen in the country and assembling that information, building communities that you have relationships with, and knowledge about you; what your activities are; what you’re doing.”

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