The Public Eye with Eric Chabrow

GOP Disses Obama over Cybersecurity

Where has Bipartisanship Gone?
GOP Disses Obama over Cybersecurity

Remember when cybersecurity was a bipartisan issue?

See Also: User Entity & Behavior Analytics 101: Strategies to Detect Unusual Security Behaviors

Congress, as we have seen, is divided over the role of the federal government in developing standards to safeguard the nation's critical IT systems that are mostly privately owned. Simply, most Democrats believe in standards that would be developed by the government and business that the infrastructure owners could adopt voluntarily. Republicans, for the most part, oppose any type of government-written standards, fearing that they could lead to regulations [see Senate Votes to Block Cybersecurity Act Action].

Mostly, the debate - though emotional at times - focused on philosophical difference on the role of government in regulating the private sector. The Republican Party, at its national convention in Tampa, Fla., is blaming the Obama administration for attacks on the nation's critical IT systems. In part, the GOP platform adopted at the convention states:

"The current administration's cybersecurity policies have failed to curb malicious actions by our adversaries, and no wonder, for there is no active deterrence protocol. The current deterrence framework is overly reliant on the development of defensive capabilities and has been unsuccessful in dissuading cyber-related aggression. The U.S. cannot afford to risk the cyber-equivalent of Pearl Harbor."

The platform states that the administration's laws and policies undermine what should be a collaborative relationship and put the government and private entities at a severe disadvantage in proactively identifying potential cyberthreats.

"The costly and heavy-handed regulatory approach by the current administration will increase the size and cost of the federal bureaucracy and harm innovation in cybersecurity," the platform states. "The government collects valuable information about potential threats that can and should be shared with private entities without compromising national security. We believe that companies should be free from legal and regulatory barriers that prevent or deter them from voluntarily sharing cyberthreat information with their government partners."

No doubt, the contention that government should limit regulation is a valid argument that deserves to be debated, as does the case that only regulations can secure critical privately owned networks.

The government's role in protecting the nation's vital IT systems has evolved over the past decade-and-a-half under Republican and Democratic administrations and with each party controlling both houses of Congress at varying times. Resolving these fundamental differences in approach won't be easy, but they are doable.

But playing the blame game won't get us any closer to securing the IT systems our nation needs to function. The political parties incorporating cybersecurity into their platforms is encouraging. All sides should promote their positions, but not by using incendiary language such as "undermine" and "heavy-handed."

About the Author

Eric Chabrow

Eric Chabrow

Retired Executive Editor, GovInfoSecurity

Chabrow, who retired at the end of 2017, hosted and produced the semi-weekly podcast ISMG Security Report and oversaw ISMG's GovInfoSecurity and InfoRiskToday. He's a veteran multimedia journalist who has covered information technology, government and business.

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