On Monday, the head of the National Security Agency (NSA) urged Congress to act swiftly to establish workable guidelines and jurisdictional boundaries in the war against destructive computer attacks that might be made against the online infrastructure of the United States.
General Keith Alexander of the U.S. Army delivered an address at the American Enterprise Institute arguing that the need for such congressional action is urgent, and that something has to be done before the nation is hit with a disabling cyberattack. He insisted that the likelihood of such an assault was increasing. “The conflict is growing, the probability for crisis is mounting,” Alexander said. “While we have the time, we should think about and enact those things that we need to ensure our security in this area. Do it now, before a crisis,” he continued.
The steps outlined in Alexander’s proposal were already approved by the House of Representatives in a bill passed in April. The legislation would have given a green light to the swapping of critical data between the government and corporate concerns.
Thankfully, there are those who have decried such schemes as leading to violations of the constitutional right of Americans to be free from unwarranted and unreasonable searches and seizures. Critics argue that, although it isn’t promoted by those pushing for this type of legislation, the effect of passage would be granting the National Security Agency the power to monitor, collect, and catalog all the Internet communications of citizens who have not been accused or suspected of committing a crime.
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Photo of NSA headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland