Top GC Spook Delivers Manifesto On Cybersecurity And Privacy

By on June 12, 2018

June 12, 2018

The General Counsel of the National Security Agency had a hard message for conference attendees at a Georgetown Cybersecurity Law Institute. The title of his address: Failing to Keep Pace: The Cyber Threat and Its Implications for Our Privacy Laws. “I hardly need tell the audience at a cybersecurity conference about the nature and scope of our cyber vulnerabilities,” said NSA General Counsel Glenn Gerstell. “What’s surprising is not the extent of this vulnerability, but that it has manifested itself in ways that haven’t yet had dramatic, society-wide effects, although the Atlanta example is surely a good scare…” The Atlanta example, as he recalled, was a ransomware attack in late March that brought city business to a halt, prevented residents from paying their water bills and even had police writing reports in longhand for the first time in years. This vignette was by way of introduction to his main subject: the privacy implications of our increasingly digital lives and the fact that regulation is lagging the market. He blames that in part on a holdover misconception: that the major threat to privacy comes from government, and that the antidote and shield is the 4th Amendment. Recent headline news regarding the exploitation of personal information by Facebook and other private companies underscores the limitations of that view. There is an interesting comparison to be made, Gerstell says, between how society has fielded today’s digital revolution and how it responded a century ago to another revolution, the one brought on by the automobile. In stark contrast to today’s scenario, by the time that technology became pervasive and affordable the need for regulations had been recognized and was already in place.

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