Obama launches cyberspace policy adventures

President Obama last Friday made his promised pledge to improve overall U.S. and intra-government cybersecurity. There weren't many specifics in his announcement, unless you were looking for a reiteration of his position on Net neutrality-and some of you probably were, but more on that in a moment.

Obama announced a plan to create a cybersecurity coordinator post (don't call it a "czar") in his administration. It is not clear yet who will fill that position, though the job so far looks similar to the administration CTO and CIO posts that he created, in that it is not particularly clear how far-reaching any of these positions will be, how influential they will be in working with other government agencies or what sort of interface they will have with private enterprise.

There's still time to decide all that, and for now, those interested in the Obama administration's take on cybersecurity can cozy up to the 76-page Cyberspace Policy Review that President Obama unveiled Friday. I haven't made it past page 11 yet, so I'll reserve judgment. But, page 11 is where we find out the answer to the burning question "What is cyberspace?" I know many of you may find it hard to keep reading after that, too, but thus far, the report and Obama's announcement are being greeted with at least polite applause and recognition that the President and the federal government are starting to tackle cybercrime in some respect. Even a small step forward is a significant enough step where this issue is concerned. Of course, there already have been plenty of cybercrime research reports from companies like Verizon Communications, Arbor Networks and many others, so the true freshness of the administration's attitude will become clear only as it actually takes some action on the issue.

Meanwhile, much media coverage and opinion has revolved around President Obama's statement during Friday's announcement that he is still "firmly committed to Net neutrality so we can keep the Internet as it should be -- open and free." Obama said this after clarifying that the cybersecurity commitment would not involve the monitoring of private sector networks and Internet traffic. The Los Angeles Times pointed out in its coverage of the announcement that Net neutrality has become somewhat of a forgotten issue. Though, if it's been forgotten, the forgetting primarily was done by the Obama administration and Congress. While Net neutrality has been on the back burner legislatively and, at least at a high level-politically-Net neutrality proponents and opponents have been working very hard to keep the issue from slipping out of sight. Also, activities such as metered broadband usage tests have kept the issue in the spotlight.

Was President Obama's statement about Net neutrality just a preemptive strike against a likely initial question about the government's cybersecurity plans, or was it driven to some degree by advisors-an increasing number of which come from Google, by the way-who are telling the President that it is now time for him to move Net neutrality to the front burner?


For more:
- The Los Angeles Times has this story

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