Barack Obama on Internet Freedom and Security

Last Updated : Sep 04, 2012

Summary

President Obama has been mixed on the subject of internet freedom and security. When responding to petitions on the White House's website to oppose SOPA and PIPA, President Obama's advisors named several actions they would oppose, including a main component of the legislation. They asked for new input, but stopped short of calling on him to veto it.

Later that year, other advisors directly asserted that President Obama should veto the CISPA legislation.

Under President Obama the growth of the national security apparatus to monitor all electronic communications has grown at the same or greater rate as under President Bush. This can be seen in the massive NSA spying facility being built in Utah that was exposed by Wired magazine.

SOPA and PIPA

The White House website allows visitors to create petitions that other users can sign to encourage the President to act on certain initiatives or act in given ways. In response to one of those petitions encouraging the White House to oppose SOPA and PIPA, three advisors to President Obama stated that they supported vigorous enforcement of intellectual property laws, but that they were opposed to several specific courses of actions. This included ensuring that any future law must not tamper with the technical architecture of the Internet through manipulation of the Domain Name System (DNS). A DNS-based blacklisting scheme was a significant feature in both the SOPA and PIPA legislation. While the advisors opposed these provisions, they did not comment on the remaining provisions. 

In a google "hangout" session, President Obama was asked about SOPA and PIPA and stated that in the end, a balance must be found between security and freedom.

CISPA

The White House policy document on CISPA called on the President to veto the legislation. Specifically, the stated that the legislation failed to provide authorities to ensure that the Nation's core critical infrastructure is protected while repealing important provisions of electronic surveillance law without instituting corresponding privacy, confidentiality, and civil liberties safeguards. As an example, the advisors stated that the bill would allow broad sharing of information with governmental entities without establishing requirements for both industry and the Government to minimize and protect personally identifiable information. The advisors also stated that such sharing should be accomplished in a way that permits appropriate sharing within the Government without undue restrictions imposed by private sector companies that share information.

The policy position also asserts that the legislation effectively treats domestic cybersecurity as an intelligence activity and thus, significantly departs from longstanding efforts to treat the Internet and cyberspace as civilian spheres.

NSA Facility

In March of 2012, Wired Magazine broke the story about a massive NSA facility being built in Utah for the purposes of holding Yottabytes of data collected on American citizens. This facility was started under President Obama and will literally record all emails, phone calls, search engine queries, and secure and encrypted data.

 

Response to SOPA and PIPA Petitions

On January 14, 2012 three officials in the Obama administration responded to several online petitions asking the President to veto SOPA or PIPA if either version passed through their respective chamber of Congress. The response lists several things that the President would oppose in any legislation, but does not assert that President Obama should or would veto the legislation if it came to his desk.

 

Google Hangout

In January of 2012, President Obama participated in a Google "Hangout" and was asked about how to address internet piracy without supporting SOPA and PIPA. He responds that he believes a balanced can be found and that the server and content sides of the internet need to come together to find a solution.

 

CISPA Policy Statement

On April 25, 2012, the OMB issued a policy statement on the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). The statement suggest that President Obama should veto the legislation.

 

Cyber Security Act of 2012

On July 26, 2012 the OMB released a policy statement supporting the passage of the Cybersecurity Act of 2012.

 

 

Sponsored and Cosponsored Legislation

This representative has not been identified as sponsoring or cosponsoring significant legislation related to this title.

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