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NSA’s ‘Perfect Citizen’ Not Seen as Perfect

Thursday, July 8, 2010 | 1:40 PM Leave a comment Go to comments

An article in the Wall Street Journal this morning reports on a new project to be launched by the National Security Agency.  Hailed as the “Perfect Citizen,” the development would provide the NSA with network surveillance to detect and prevent potential cyber attacks against private companies and government-based organizations in charge of the nation’s critical infrastructure, including the US power grid and nuclear power plants.

A source familiar with the new program told the Wall Street Journal, “The goal is to close the ‘big, glaring holes’ in the US’ understanding of the nature of the cyber threat against its infrastructure.”  Yet it’s apparent that Perfect Citizen isn’t so perfect to other cyber experts and tech types.

While some (including: PC World, The Hill, Wireless Week and Federal News Radio) are calling the NSA’s latest development a “Big Brother” approach, Cato Institute’s director of information policy studies, Jim Harper, wrote on his blog this morning that Perfect Citizen may be “Congress’ Perfect Failure.”  Harper went on to claim, “Our legislature is utterly supine before the national security bureaucracy, which exaggerates cybersecurity threats and consistently uses the secrecy trump card to defy oversight.”

Meanwhile, CNET’s Lance Whitney takes a look at both sides of the ‘Citizen’ debate, stating, “Some in industry and government see it as an attempt by the NSA to intrude into domestic matters, while others believe it’s a much-needed step in fighting the threat of cyberattacks.”

“For now, Perfect Citizen is not a mandatory program,” noted Clay Dillow of Popular Science, including, “The look of the finalized program is still unclear, as the NSA is working with private companies to persuade them of the gravity of the threat and come to agreeable terms with the government on how best to implement the sensors.”

Other media covering the Perfect Citizen program include:

Poll: US cyber shield worth the privacy price? (CBS News)

How to needlessly complicate the cyber debate (The Atlantic)

NSA “Perfect Citizen” raises “Big Brother” concerns in private sector (PC World)

NSA launching ‘Big Brother’ program to detect cyber attacks (The Hill)

Is Perfect Citizen Big Brother? (Wireless Week)

Neighborhood watch for the internet? (Federal News Radio)

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  1. Friday, July 9, 2010 | 5:07 PM at 5:07 PM

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