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Obama Announces Creation of Cybersecurity Czar, But Will It Do Any Good?

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By Kevin Fayle on May 29, 2009 2:53 PM

As expected, President Obama announced today that he would create a Cybersecurity Czar to coordinate efforts to protect the nation's digital infrastructure.  Labeling the country's data networks a "strategic national asset," President Obama also announced a report containing strategies to increase cybersecurity, although actual policies will come later.

The President's speech didn't contain any indication about who he will eventually select as Cybersecurity Czar.  He did say, however, that the office will work with the Office of Management and Budget to make sure that departments make room in their budgets for cybersecurity priorities.  The czar will also coordinate the nation's response in the event of a major cyber attack.
One thing the czar won't do, according to the President, is monitor private networks or Internet traffic.  the office will also have an official with the responsibility of preserving privacy and civil liberties.

It's important that Obama is taking note of the risks that attacks on our data systems could pose to the nation, but will a czar really have a concrete impact?  As this Wall Street Journal article points out, czars are often ineffective in carrying out their appointed tasks, and end up being more of a political symbol than anything else.  Sometimes they can even lead to decreased efficiency as a result of infighting and territorial disputes.

For this issue, it will probably be the policies, and not the enforcer, that really gets the job done.

See Also:
Obama Says New Cyberczar Won't Spy on the Net (Threat Level)
Obama Outlines Coordinated Cyber-Security Plan (NYTimes)
New position will guard online security (CNN)

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