‘You are the one…’ An Open Letter to the Honorable Barrack Obama, President of the United States… the subject: the need for immediate, thorough, empowering action against computer hackers.

February 25, 2012 | Author: | Posted in Dr. Jeffrey Lant’s Article Archive

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s Program Note: It is time for me to again address the President of the Great Republic, as I do from time to time as the pressing significance of a given subject makes such contact necessary, proper, and my duty. Today I address the growing problem of computer hacking… and again I call upon an eminent artist for assistance. Today that is Cole Porter (1891-1964), a genius for music, lyrics and style, an American original, the man who breathed sophistication and a cosmopolitan attitude into all of us… and so changed the world.

In 1932 he wrote a tune that became the signature song for every yearning lover on this planet… “Night and Day”… featuring four words that justified every action, every deed of derring-do, an avalanche of execrable but heart felt poesy and above all constant ingenuity and substantive action. These four words, of course, are “you are the one…” the words a man or woman in love keeps in mind at all times and which justify everything they may do in pursuit of bliss.

Now I am addressing these words to you, sir, because you are the one, the right and necessary person to take the leadership role in what is now a daily, indeed hourly event on the most important method of communication ever invented… the Internet.

So, in a nutshell, I shall today present for your immediate consideration and action a problem of global significance… a problem already causing often baffling difficulties to governments, businesses, non-profit organizations and simple citizens. That is the problem of computer hacking and unauthorized access to and unauthorized use of private documentation, often of the most sensitive and important kind.

This problem has never existed before… no precedents exist for solving it… and no one, not even the most gifted Internet authorities, can be certain which means for curtailing this menace, this clear and present danger to so many good people, may work to solve the problem, or not.

But because it is essential to approach this draining, frustrating, demanding problem in the right state of mind, you, like every other reader, should search for Cole Porter’s masterpiece in any search engine. It will do at least two things: remind you that this is a problem that is with us “night and day”, and it will put a song in your heart, the better for a productive, cheerful day and useful deliberation on the problem overall and my point of view on what is happening… and what must be done to turn the tide… and solve a problem which should never have been allowed to grow to its current unsatisfactory, worrying, expensive, dismaying, infuriating and dangerous level.

We shall not solve this problem in one day with one document… but in one day with one document we can and must begin… and here we shall do so.

Hacking cases proliferate.

Hacking is not an occasional, ephemeral, casual problem; it is not limited to one industry, one country, or one kind of information. As even the most cursory glance at all newspapers will attest, we are seeing daily hacking events. Here is just one, one which must serve for the unlimited number of such events taking place on a continuing basis.

Item: On January 20, 2012, The Boston Globe, the most important newspaper in one of the two most important technology development areas of the Great Republic, reported that the online activist group Anonymous took responsibility the day before for a series of network attacks on government and entertainment industry websites. As a result, service disruptions were reported by the Justice Department, Universal Music Group, and BMI, which collects copyright royalties for composers. In addition the US Copyright Office and the Recording Industry Association of America were attacked.

It is important to note the apparent reason for these attacks, since they illustrate a key aspect of this problem: electronic vigilantes taking the law into their hands, deciding what is appropriate and necessary for any perceived outrage to their affiliations and interests. In this case the digital assault was launched in retaliation for the indictments of seven individuals and two Hong Kong companies accused of distributing illicit content worth more than $500 million. In other words, the alleged guilty parties launched the hacking to hurt the reputable authorities who had hurt them… and Anonymous activists cheered the culprits on, an alarming and frequent situation in these matters where those with privileged and private records are automatically fingered as the villains by hackers who are as close to Anarchists as history can find.

First steps.

The first thing the Great Republic must do to begin the counteroffensive against hackers who have, until now, lead the attacks is to create a department of government under the Justice Department with a name that makes crystal clear what this office is in business to do: The Anti Computer Hacking Division. This agency must be launched in a White House Rose Garden ceremony which will at once indicate the importance of the endeavor and enable you, sir, to announce the formation of the Presidential Task Force Against Computer Hacking.

This ceremony will feature the members of this Commission, senior officials from Congress and the computer and Internet industry, as well as representatives from particularly affected groups such as the federal government itself, the military, banks, universities. etc. It must be the bluest blue-ribbon panel ever picked, and deservedly so given the importance of the subject. The Chairperson of the panel must have national and global recognition and clout, someone like Bill Gates immediately comes to mind. The appointment of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (himself once a hacker of note) would be clever and appropriate, for he will be a power in the industry for life.

Everything you ever wanted to know about hacking.

With the development of this structure, the overall objective must be made clear to all: viz, that EVERYTHING related to hacking and its promptest eradication must be gathered under one umbrella. Of course this will affront offices already involved in the matter, territorial to a person. But that is where you come in, sir, for yours is the job of visualizing this crucial enterprise and using the “bully-pulpit” of your office to sell it to all. But your job does not end with selling all this to those in the Great Republic, no indeed; for this is a global problem and must be solved globally.

Urbi et orbi.

When the Pope offers an encyclical, he speaks to the people of Rome (“urbi”) and the people of the world (“orbi”), and so it must be now, for every poor hamlet on earth has computers and hackers with animus against authority. Their governments must take their place in the war against hacking… assisting in the identification, detention, trial and imprisonment of hackers. And if such governments do not assist this necessary cause? Well, then, that is what economic and other sanctions are for, and most deservedly here.

Take action now.

As I have rightly and often pointed out, the repute and standing of the Great Republic have rarely been lower in the world than now. Whole generations now look upon us and our endeavors as the problem, not the solution. Launching assertive war against hackers and clearing the world’s e-lanes, as we once did for the world’s sea-lanes, cannot but help change such deleterious perceptions.

And so it falls to you, Mr. President, to begin this endeavor, long overdue, a credit to yourself, your Administration and a relief to our citizens and every law abiding regime on Earth. So much to be gained, at such a trifling cost. Do this, Mr. President, do this now… and reap the grateful thanks of all but hackers, selfish, disrupters, arrogant, malevolent, malcontents all who should never have had this weapon, much less so long.

Do this, Mr. President, because it is the right thing to do, and because you are the one who can do it.

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