A new initiative is being launched that will take a bite out of liberty by teaming up Big Tech companies with big government in order to make it easier to share our private information between the public and private sectors.
In prepared remarks made by Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Director Jen Easterly at last week’s Black Hat cybersecurity conference, we learned that the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) new Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative (JCDC) will coordinate the effort to develop national cyber defense planning across government agencies and the Big Tech private sector.
Even though we are just learning about this recent bite out of liberty, the partnership between Big Tech and big government has been in the works for several years — despite the worn-out attacks routinely doled out against Big Tech by Republicans with presidential ambitions.
To begin with, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) was created in November 2018 by Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress. According to the “Safety over Liberty Theatre” players, CISA would operate under the umbrella of DHS and be “responsible for protecting the nation’s critical infrastructure from physical and cyber threats.”
With the foundation in place, Rep. James Langevin (D-RI) introduced the Cybersecurity Vulnerability Identification and Notification (CVIN) Act in January 2020, a bill that requires data-sharing between DHS and CISA anytime government deems it necessary to prevent a cybercrime.
“The Internet was not created with security in mind, and in a world that is more interconnected each day through technology, critical systems used to deliver essentials like water and power are at risk of being compromised. This legislation is based on a simple premise we’ve all become familiar with: if you see something, say something. We are taking a proactive step that gives CISA the ability to say something when they see something.
“While CISA analysts work diligently to monitor and uncover risks, current policy impedes them in their efforts to warn at-risk critical infrastructure operators. There have been numerous instances where CISA has not been able to identify the owner of a vulnerable system and warn them of their exposure.” (emphasis mine)
The CVIN Act is intended to create a “workaround” of existing law by making it easier for government to ignore the privacy rights of Big Tech consumers. Currently, whenever CISA identifies what it considers a vulnerable system, it is limited in its response because because telecommunications companies possessing “relevant” subscriber information are prohibited under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act from disclosing it to the U.S. government, absent of a compulsory legal process.
That brings us to last week’s announcement that Big Tech and government are teaming up to take another bite out of liberty (via CNBC):
Crowdstrike, Palo Alto Networks, FireEye, Amazon Web Services, Google, Microsoft, AT&T, Verizon and Lumen have all agreed to work on the new initiative with CISA. The group’s work will initially focus on combatting ransomware — when hackers encrypt information and threaten to withhold it until a ransom is paid — and creating a framework to respond to incidents impacting cloud providers.
The new effort comes after several cyberattacks underscored the importance of communication between the public and private sectors in preventing damage.(emphasis mine)
According to Easterly, the JCDC will make it easier for government to be more proactive and coordinated in its approach to cyber attacks.
“Proactive” crime fighting? Sounds a lot like another law Trump and the GOP were working on in 2018 (HR-5611) — a bill I satirically called the Minority Report Act of 2018 — that recreated the Office for Partnerships to Prevent Terrorism, now known as the Office for Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention.
The big-government assault on liberty greatly intensified in the Age of Trump as he and the GOP worked hand-in-hand with Democrats to target Big Tech while simultaneously creating a partnership designed to strip away our God-given rights.
At EXACTLY the same time that Rep. Langevin introduced the Cybersecurity Vulnerability Identification and Notification Act, Trump was demanding that Apple give government backdoor access to iPhones, a request that was denied by the tech giant at the time.
We are helping Apple all of the time on TRADE and so many other issues, and yet they refuse to unlock phones used by killers, drug dealers and other violent criminal elements. They will have to step up to the plate and help our great Country, NOW! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 14, 2020
The administration is asking for a backdoor to access encrypted data. Creating such backdoors makes everyone vulnerable to abuses by our government, hostile foreign governments, and cyber criminals. Pres. Trump should be praising strong encryption, not working to undermine it. https://t.co/Brd8GrkaQD
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) January 15, 2020
Trump’s attack on Apple for refusing to give the government access to cell phone data wasn’t new. In February 2016, then-candidate Trump called for a boycott of the Big Tech giant after Apple refused to cooperate with government authorities attempting to hack into the iPhone of one of the shooters involved in an attack at a San Bernardino, CA community center.
Trump’s attacks on Big Tech companies were nothing but propaganda, designed to make it easier for Republicans to find new ways to give the DHS more control of cybersecurity and to find a way to make NSA spying on Americans permanent.
By the way, there was a GOP-sponsored Senate version of the CVIN Act being worked on in 2020 that would have given the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) even greater power to subpoena internet and telecommunications companies for information on subscribers, including names, addresses, and telephone numbers.
The so-called war against terrorism has been foundational to the tyrannical goal of expanding Washington’s power to spy on Americans, so it’s not all that surprising to see Big Tech and big government teaming up with them to take a bite out of liberty.
Still, as the days grow darker, we can’t allow government’s same ol’ same ol’ behavior lull us into a state of complacency where we become unaware of the serious threat facing liberty in America. Instead, we need to be prepared to do as the Founders did: pledging our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor to ensure our independence from tyrannical government.
David Leach is the owner of the Strident Conservative. He holds people of every political stripe accountable for their failure to uphold conservative values, and he promotes those values instead of political parties.