Cybersecurity: An Example

The threats to our cybersecutity are real, nuclear power plants, water systems, communication grids could all be under attack with widespread consequences. Yet a cybersecurity bill died in the senate. The NYT headlines said it was due to the weight of partisan bickering, but the body of the article also pointed to other problems. The bill was rewritten to reflect the concerns of opposition from industry groups and their political allies mainly in relation to the issues of balancing civil liberties and national security. It was originally intended to allow the government to enforce minimum standards for the computer systems which are behind critical infrastructure grids. Industry opposition, however, forced the backers of the bill to make it voluntary. The result was a measure that only allowed private companies and government agencies to share information about cybersecurity threats. In response to fears from civil libertarians, the administration had made sure to let the Department of Homeland Security be the agency in charge rather than the National Security Agency. In addition the administration expanded much political energy trying to get the bill through the senate, and dozens of amendments were attached. Still it failed to get the necessary votes. One wonders whether after being watered down and having so many amendments, the bill’s failure may not be warranted. Nevertheless, the whole thing depicts a government that is sufficiently dysfunctional, it is unable to ensure the welfare of its citizens when it should.