Do you want the NSA to be the cyber-police?

June 16, 2011

Today’s special report looks at what the U.S. government is and is not doing to fight cyber attacks. Read it in multimedia PDF format here.

It seems every day brings news of another data breach, from defense firms to banks and even the U.S. Senate.

Among the questions raised in the report is about the role of the National Security Agency, the Pentagon’s top secret intelligence outfit.

A central conundrum is that the Pentagon’s National Security Agency, which specializes in electronic eavesdropping, has personnel with the best cyber skills, but has been until recently mostly shut out of protecting domestic networks. That’s due to the highly classified nature of the NSA’s work, and fears that it will stray into domestic spying.

Another complicating factor: the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act, which generally bars federal military personnel from acting in a law-enforcement capacity within the United States, except where expressly authorized by Congress.

“NSA has a long history in cyber security, on both the offensive and the defensive sides. It has great resources and expertise. But it makes privacy advocates nervous,” said Stewart Baker, a former DHS official now at the law firm Steptoe and Johnson LLP.

Should the NSA take the lead? What about the privacy of American citizens? Tell us what you think.

(This post was updated to correct the subhead in the graphic)

One comment

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who controls the controllers?

Posted by lucam | Report as abusive