Sen. Barack Obama has unveiled his technology plan, and it includes the appointment of a Chief Technology Officer. That sounds sort of cool in a Star Trek-geek kind of way, until you get to the details, at which point it just sounds lame and more than slightly dangerous.
The CTO’s mandate would be quite different from the Cybersecurity czar appointed under the Bush Administration. Bush’s czar helped defend against cyberattacks. Obama’s CTO, by contrast, would ensure government officials holds open meetings, broadcast live webcasts of those meetings, and use blogging software, wikis and open comments to communicate policies with Americans, according to the plan.
It’s unclear from the article whether the Obama CTO would replace Bush’s Cybersecurity czar or not, though the contrast that’s set up and the language on Obama’s site makes me think so. If that’s what Obama is doing, he couldn’t be more wrongheaded in his approach. China and Russia both are ramping up their cybersecurity capabilities and have been for the past few years; Bush’s czar was primarily put in place to beef up defenses against those two threats. China is known to have hacked into the Pentagon with ease, and Russia is believed to have been behind the first genuine cyber attack on the web infrastructure of another state when it targeted government, ministerial and banking sites in Estonia back in May. The threat of cyber war is only going to grow, and from terrorist and anarchist groups as well as nation-states.
If Obama is replacing what amounts to our cyber DCI and replacing that office with someone whose prime responsibilities will be to make sure that government websites enable comments on their blogs and webcasts, well, that’s idiotic. The rest of his plan may be brilliant, but it’s starting off by weakening us against a real threat. That’s just what Democrats seem to do instinctively.
Of course, the rest of his plan isn’t brilliant. It amounts to getting government involved in broadband rollouts, net neutrality, and corporate welfare for Silicon Valley. Bigger government, in other words. That also is just what Democrats seem to do instinctively.