UPI via The Washington Times

Tenet calls for Internet security

[...]

The way the Internet was built might be part of the problem, he said. Its open architecture allows Web surfing, but that openness makes the system vulnerable, Mr. Tenet said.

Access to networks like the World Wide Web might need to be limited to those who can show they take security seriously, he said.

If the Internet were not open, it would no longer be the Internet. it is exactly the "vulnerabilities" that Tenet refers to that allows the Internet to promote free speech, innovation and growth without asking permission, getting licenses or being controlled by governments and monopolies. Shutting down or closing the open Internet in the name of fear and terror would do more damage to global democracy and innovation than any real damage it would have on terrorists. Of course terrorists use the Internet, but so does everyone else. I think people underestimate how much damage certain types of "control" can have on the future of the Internet. Either Tenet was ignorant of the nature of the Internet or it is yet another calculated push towards turning the Internet into another version of the telephone networks or cable TV...

Does Tenet have any influence on policy anymore?

Susan Crawford mentioned this during her remarks at the public forum at ICANN. Are there any other news agencies reporting this story?

19 Comments

look at the worse case scenario:

1. if the usa were to decide to restrict access to the internet, that would be a national law. given the momemtum that the whole internet industry, commerce and adventure has taken, that would end up being an american problem.

2. how far down the line can communication be controlled and restricted? (phone lines, radio, satellite)

3. the question is, does the internet need the usa? or does the usa need the internet?

4. i may be plain stupid, but Tenet's remarks are either out of context or point to something akin to the church's attitude towards da Vinci, Gallileo or Keppler.

5. the only other thing that foments innovation more than freedom is restriction and suppression. the human spirit does not let itself be constrained.

If you build a network from the ground up, you can create it in any way you want, from complete control to no control.

The question really is how much control or regulation does the internet need? I think it might need a bit more than currently exists, but it's going to be a long fight to implement that regulation, which is probably a good thing, and means that it will be hard for governments to overregulate it.

The internet is essentially like any other communication or transportation network. Any society will attempt to reduce the ability of the network to propagate harms, and increase its ability to propagate useful information and facilitate useful work. The way we figure out how to actually reduce the harms without substantially reducing the benefits is through fits and starts, trying to find rules that work, and that don't piss people off. This is also how the law works...

But anarchy is almost never the best form of organization, because harms actually can be identified and reduced in most cases without substantially inhibiting beneficial activity. It's just a bit hard to figure out how that can be done. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try...

By the way, Cairo, I think you're wrong about number 5, and some of the others.

It's clear that people have allowed themselves to be completely controlled in places like North Korea. It hasn't produced a lot of innovation.

It may be interesting to look at an extreme case of Internet policing: China.

http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGASA170012004?


http://rconversation.blogs.com/rconversation/2004/12/the_china_probl.html

And ofcourse, the best fiction for thought-policing is Orwell's "1984".

Yes, this is interesting, but can they stop the network being alive ??
Take a look at how the first amendment will be effected ..
..and now the scramble between .gov fractions for the protection of the information grid.

Can be policy be changed ? Not unless the Marketplace agrees and vendors agree.. if not where will the value offering be created for sustainable growth ???

The question really is how much control or regulation does the internet need? I think it might need a bit more than currently exists, but it's going to be a long fight to implement that regulation, which is probably a good thing, and means that it will be hard for governments to overregulate it.

Why do you think the Internet needs more control or regulation? I'm very curious to hear your argument for this.

Any society will attempt to reduce the ability of the network to propagate harms, and increase its ability to propagate useful information and facilitate useful work.

Fine, but you forget the underlying problem behind that rationale: who defines harm and useful information?

To the U.S. government, a blog in Iraq, say, about American violations of the Geneva convention might be considered one of your "harms". But to the rest of the world it would be "useful information".

That's just one more of the beauties of the system as it is: decentralization of moral opinion. It's always easy to find like-minded people who engage in civil discourse on the web, whether the topic is one of interest to you or not. So, yeah, there are things like child porn and terrorist chat rooms and so on. And yes, the internet has become one of the many vehicles for these. But the internet has also become a vehicle for free speech, for peace, for justice, for the disenfranchised, and for a myriad of other movements and organizations. So, the internet is a vehicle for ideas and people. Terrorists also drive cars and fire guns - should Tenet restrict drivers licenses and ban firearms in America?

The point is, the internet accelerates ideas. If you believe that people are intrincically evil, then yes, the internet will do more harm than good. If you believe that people are generally well-meaning, then positive, constructive ideas will dominate it. As Joi mentioned here, "The Internet is becoming more and more widespread and will increasingly represent a scientific random sample of the population.".

And Tenet? I wouldn't worry about him. He knows how dangerous a well-informed populace can be, and also knows that the Internet is the last bastion of free speech and non-partisan news that Americans have access to; it's natural he would clamor for control over it.

Q: How do we know the CIA were not involved with the JFK assassination ?
A: It was successful

You know, this is a story that is getting ripped one way or the other by the hype machines and not the facts. One of the reasons I say this is because most people don't know the facts--the acutal reporting on what Tenet said is very minimal. Do a Google News search and you'll be surprised how little reporting there is (vs. commentary). The Washington Times (hehe) takes a couple of quotes and then strings them together with their with a few paragraphs of "explanations" based on the skills of what? Their "computer security reporter???"

I say this not to downplay what Tenet said / didn't say, but simply to point out more context is needed. For example, instead of the Pavlovian blue-state, anti-Aschroft position many hold when they read these comments, re-read the story from the position of an anti-spammer: read it thinking that Tenet was blasting "zombie PCs" and those who leave their systems open for others to exploit and use in ddos attacks, spams, and as cracking machines. Reread his quotes about the "national security threat" to our country's "telecom networks" that is posed from zombie pcs? What few quotes there are in the original Washington TImes (hehe) story can fit the context of an "anti-zombie speech" just as easily as a 'anti-free speech" speech.

Has anyone actually found the full text of his speech, or is this all based on the Moonie's newspaper article?

For those of us outside the USA of course this is hardly a matter of concern - even if the US Congress decides to regulate in some way, it's hardly going to affect those of us outside US borders - as we all know, receiving a hell of a lot of spam from outside the US (Korea, was it?)

I'm actually rather surprised that so much attention is paid to comments like this that actually mirror what has been going on for some time. There are already sysadmins who blackhole email from Korea, essentially denying access to "those who cannot take security seriously." I seem to recall there is a network of people who will also blackhole spam originating networks (for a while, I think email from AOL may have been blocked until they sorted out the problem.)

I suppose it is important to speak up to protect freedom of speech and stand up when one fears one's rights may be infringed. However, when actual, serious breaches of human rights are ocurring right around the world, (as Shareen mentions above) including under the oversight of one's own government, I wonder if I shouldn't be writing a letter to someone who can do something instead of speculating on a blog.

Not to worry. You can't put the genie back in the bottle and you can't limit the Internet. I did an article in Infrmation Week several years ago about the IT in the Intelligence Community, which was in disarray. Tenet ran the CIA but DARPA, which is part of DOD, funded and developed the Internet and it is NSA that has the most expertise on defending it. That's part of it's mission. Added to that are the thousands of civilian experts. The Internet might take a hit , but it designed to take such hits; to literally survive a nuclear war.

I love the words "Access to networks like the World Wide Web might need to be limited to those who can show they take security seriously, he said." As the same guy who brought home classified documents and put them on his home computer which was connected to this open network I find it rather amusing based on his own lack of security.

Ummm...you are mixing up your former CIA directors. The guy who took things home was Deutch. The man making the speech was Tenet. Different guys

http://archives.cnn.com/2000/US/02/03/cia.deutch/

Opps, my bad thanks Andrew :-)

Poppycock. The genie is already out of the bottle.

Oops. Sorry, Francis. Did not see your post before writing my last one.

Well, I don't know the context, but it's not a completely ridiculous idea. It's true that people using the Internet haven't the faintest idea about security issues. (To be fair, much the same is true of users of calling cards, credit cards, ATM machines and chequebooks.) What can you do? It's certainly the case that users need to be much better educated about all this stuff. There are people out there trying to hurt them.

Doing my part to ensure the appearance of the obligatory mention of the "Anyone who trades liberty for security deserves neither liberty nor security."

   "By submitting your comments you agree to license them to the public under the terms of the CC BY 2.0 license."

No license issues on the internet? What are you talking about? :D

i'm against limiting our freedom
limiting the internet isn't the good way to solve the (CIA) world problems!
when they limit the internet we go to a ''communist way of life style''.

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Washington Times writes: The former CIA director said telecommunications -- and specifically the Internet -- are a back door through which terrorists and other enemies of the United States could attack the country, even though great strides have been m... Read More

According to UPI, former CIA Director George J. Tenet suggests that "access to networks like the World Wide Web might need to be limited to those who can show they take security seriously." "I know that these actions will be... Read More

Joi Ito has some interesting comments on George Tenet's madcap Bush Cabal lunacy on limiting net access. Hey now, this is the kind of thinking we don't need. Read More

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