It’s clear to me that privacy remains the overriding concern of the Obama Administration as it continues to wrestle with Cyber Security.

On July 22nd, I attended two separate events: the Juniper / Federal Computer Weekly breakfast at the Willard Hotel and a presentation at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce by DNI Denny Blair.  At the first, the keynotes were Mr. Tom Donahue of the alternative Security Staff (Director, Cyber Policy), and former CIO of the Intel Community MG (ret.) Dale Meyerrose.

Donahue’s excellent presentation began where it should have.  He declared that this was the beginning of a dialogue on Identity Management.  The discussion was enlightening on one hand, and disheartening on another.  This was due to the fact that Donahue had a lot more questions than answers.  I do not refer to technology answers, but policy answers.  It seems that the Administration is only now diving into this key issue.  The main take away for me was the number of times and ways Donahue focused on the fact that privacy was the really big issue here.  While he never said it out right, my impression was that privacy will always trump security.  We can be secure ONLY if it in no way impinges on privacy.  That is a standard that cannot be met.  There must be some balance.

Meyerrose was much more practical.  He gave privacy its due, but commented that many people think that anonymous access to the Internet is a right guaranteed in the Constitution.  He did point out that in the July 21st Washington Post, he found fourteen articles that dealt with identity in one way or another.  This issue is hot, and is critical to cyber security.

DNI Blair also addressed Cyber Security, and he immediately went to the “Privacy Disclaimer”.  It seems that there are definite “3d Rails” in this debate.  They were, no National ID cards, no data storage, and as little government participation as possible.

We need to continue to work through this morass.  However, we cannot cede the field to either those who say we can have no control (total anonymity and freedom), or those who would lock down everything (security over all rights).  Where is the call for balance?  We need it badly, and the Administration’s tendency to mollify a certain segment of their supporters is not being helpful.

Dr. Steven Bucci is director of the Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation. He was previously a lead consultant to IBM on cyber security policy. Bucci’s military and government service make him a recognized expert in the interagency process and defense of U.S. interests, particularly with regard to critical infrastructure and what he calls the productive interplay of government and the private sector. Read More