When We Wage Cyberwar, the Whole Web Suffers

Source: Bloomberg
Coverage Type: op-ed
US Capitol, East Capitol Street, NE and 1st Street, NE, DC, 20515, United States

[Commentary] Responding to concerns voiced by privacy advocates, conservative groups and hundreds of thousands of Americans, the House Intelligence Committee has revised parts of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, also known as CISPA. Those provisions would have allowed companies to disclose sensitive information to the government without being accountable to U.S. privacy laws.

But the real problem with CISPA and similar bills now pending in the Senate is much deeper: This flurry of legislation signals that elements of our government want to wage unconstrained war on other nations in cyberspace, no matter what the consequences may be to humanity. The arms race being driven by this desire is threatening Internet freedom here and abroad. Our openness has always carried some risks to the U.S. We can be attacked. We should always prefer principled engagement - - even with our enemies -- to bellicosity driven by fear, particularly when our own citizens will otherwise be deeply harmed. We don’t have enough guns to direct at everyone around the world. We might as well communicate.

[Crawford is a visiting professor at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Harvard Law School. She is a former special assistant to President Barack Obama for science, technology and innovation policy.]

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