Specious Pretenses of Justice….

As I listen to each new maneuvering by the Grand old Plutocratic party, a ringing phrase used to characterize Diocletian, the last Roman Emperor but one before Constantine, (38th and 40th) [by Gibbon, in “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” ] occurs:

He possessed ” the great art of …coloring his own interests with the most specious pretenses of justice and public utility…”
The latest, from the land of speciousness, are arguments from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Republicans in the House that big companies should not be told, in the name of national security, to institute certain security measures to help stop the onslaught of cyber-hacking: this would be ‘regulation’ and regulation is bad.  Tax breaks would be much more helpful….
Daniel Gaynor at the SF Chron catches us up:
Congress is debating two cybersecurity bills in the Senate. …

 Today, gas pipelines, nuclear power plants and water systems are all connected to computer systems. If those systems are hacked, there can be devastating consequences.

The Senate bills represent a real opportunity to reach a bipartisan solution on cybersecurity. The first bill is supported by conservatives in Congress and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the second is backed by a bipartisan group of senators. Yet, even with the threat of cyber-attack being well established, partisan bickering may derail real progress from happening.

One of the clearest points of contention is whether to create minimal security standards for critical infrastructure – like gas pipes, nuclear power plants and subway systems. The chamber would prefer not to have required cybersecurity protection for all infrastructure providers, 85 percent of which are private companies. To the chamber and conservatives, protection requires regulation, and regulation is always a bad thing. In their view, requiring infrastructure providers to step up their cybersecurity defense is an added cost, not a long-term investment in public safety.

The bipartisan bill takes a more realistic approach. It would establish a base level of cybersecurity for infrastructure providers, fortifying the systems we rely on – our electricity grid, for example – from cyber-attacks. The bill recognizes a key fact: Hackers are targeting businesses and infrastructure providers. Indeed, the cost of global cyber-attacks, at $114 billion annually, is more than the annual global market for marijuana, cocaine and heroin combined.

The chamber should know the dangers of being unprepared: In 2010, Chinese hackers broke into its internal networks, stealing private information on its 3 million member businesses.

Read more:

And if you don’t believe someone in the “liberal” San Francisco Chronicle, how about Bloomberg News?

This is a few months old, but the picture is the same that Gaynor draws, if in different, more flattering colors to the Chamber and its Republican allies….

The Chamber and TechAmerica say they favor legislation that relies on incentives, rather than rules, to improve security. Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are pursuing smaller, targeted bills rather than the comprehensive approach taken in the Senate.

“I don’t want to get bogged down with a giant bill,” Representative Greg Walden, an Oregon Republican, said in an interview Feb. 8.

An 11-page bill from Representative Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican, would let the government disclose classified cyberthreat data to companies in sensitive industries and shield businesses from lawsuits when they act in good faith to protect their networks.

Incentives Considered

A separate 45-page measure from Representative Dan Lungren, a California Republican, would create a federal organization to promote information-sharing on cyberthreats. It would let the Homeland Security Department identify risks to networks and develop security measures, without giving the agency new regulatory powers.

Walden, who leads the House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee, said he will consider taking up a bill offering companies incentives that may also include tax breaks.

“If we do this in an incorrect way we actually hurt the ability of the private sector,” he said.

Is this actually a problem? Well….Yes! (rising intonation.)  Here is Peet Bharara, The United States Attorney for the Southern District of  New York:

A few weeks ago, after a speech I gave about cybercrime, a board member of a significant Internet-based company took me aside and admitted, with some horror, that his company’s board had not spent a single minute discussing cybersecurity.

These troubling admissions reveal critically outdated thinking in the business community. But there is recourse, and the cliff can still be avoided.

For one thing, large and small corporations alike must adopt a culture of disclosure. A bank would never think to delay reporting to the police a conventional robbery by a masked criminal wielding a gun and a note. But that is what institutions are still routinely doing after being compromised by anonymous criminals operating through the Internet.

Corporations may wait days or even weeks and months, or never disclose the attacks at all, for fear of exposing proprietary information. But doing so makes it much harder to identify the perpetrator and prevent future economic injury

 

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