Lawyers say ruling may enable “military deployment within the United States”
Source: Steve Watson
Lawyers with the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) have filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request (PDF) demanding that the Obama administration make public the text of a secret directive on cybersecurity, fearing that it could allow the military and intelligence agencies to operate on the networks of private companies, such as Facebook.
As we highlighted yesterday, a report in theWashington Post, cited several US officials saying that Obama signed off on the secret directive in mid-October.
“The new directive is the most extensive White House effort to date to wrestle with what constitutes an “offensive” and a “defensive” action in the rapidly evolving world of cyberwar and cyberterrorism.” the report states.
EPIC attorneys Amie Stepanovich and Ginger McCall say that Obama’s secret law may enable “military deployment within the United States” to oversee network security at communications companies such as AT&T and Comcast, social networks such as Facebook, and information centers like Google.
“We don’t know what’s in this policy directive and we feel the American public has the right to know.” McCall commented yesterday.
“The NSA’s cyber security operations have been kept very, very secret, and because of that it has been impossible for the public to react to them,” Stepanovich added. “[That makes it] very difficult, we believe, for Congress to legislate in this area. It’s in the public’s best interest, from a knowledge perspective and from a legislative perspective, to be made aware of what authority the NSA is being given.”
“Our concern is buttressed by an earlier FOIA request that we submitted, when [NSA Director] General Keith Alexander had been asked a few questions [during his confirmation hearing] that he did not answer publicly,” Stepanovich told news website Raw Story.
“He submitted answers in a private, classified supplement, which we also do not have publicly available. There was a question about the monitoring of private communication networks. Whatever answer he gave is not public, but it may implicate now what the NSA is attempting to do.” Stepanovich added.
As we noted in our report yesterday, the secret directive appears to also legally enable the US military and the NSA to use newly created computer viruses to attack any organisation or country deemed to be a cyber threat. Obama has already shown the willingness to carry out such attacks, as new details surrounding the 2010 stuxnet attack revealed earlier this year.