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Tech at Night: Live from Virginia: Human Trafficking, Cybersecurity

Tech at Night

I’m back, having gotten myself and my worldly possessions from southern California to northern Virginia. I also have a backlog of items that I’m never going to cover completely tonight, so some issues are going to wait until Monday. So please, check back Monday. There are things I’d love to cover tonight, but I simply lack the time.

Let’s start with Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) joining up to press Google to do something about the advertising of human trafficking services. Some people are going to have a knee-jerk reaction to this, call it a for-the-children threat to censor. But it’s not. The “child pornography” card gets pulled for all sorts of power grabs, but this isn’t about pictures on the Internet, either of real or made-up people. This is about the actual kidnapping and enslaving of people, including children. That is legitimate cause for action.

And note that Blackburn is would be perfectly happy for Google to do something about it, setting an industry standard, and end the need for government action of any kind. That’s commendable. Because you know what? Industry can act to emulate legislation and do so more effectively than government ever will.

So, how about some cybersecurity?

If we’re going to pass a bill at all, and we probably should given the rise of criminal and anarchist attacks trying to take down all world governments, we need to pass the SECURE IT bills introduced by McCain and co. in the Senate, and by Blackburn and co. in the House. Heightened criminal penalties, lowered barriers to defensive information sharing, and no government power grab. What’s not to like?

Information, not regulation, is the most powerful too in the box for fighting online attacks. Honest people need to be informed of possible attacks by domestic businesses or by foreign entities. SECURE IT tries to help information sharing. That’s what we need.

What we don’t need is to bring DHS in to regulate private industry, which is what Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins want. John McCain, not the staunchest advocate of free markets after his recent Augusta National comments, even sees the glaring problems here when he’s saying “A super-regulator like DHS would impact free-market forces.”

Note an interesting problem here: industries we’re most worried about are already regulated. Utilities, banks, doctors, airports, and others already have government breathing down their necks. If we bring DHS into it, we’re multiplying obligations and creating redundancy. That’s harmful, not helpful. Security requires clarity of design and of purpose. Mistakes come with complexity, and successful attacks are born in mistakes.

Democrat Chris Dodd may want to revive PROTECT IP in the Senate, but as long as the House leadership won’t budge on SOPA, its House counterpart, that’s not happening.

It may be time to Play the Sad Trombone for LightSquared. Losing Sprint had to hurt. A lot.

Tune in Monday for Internet Sales Tax failures, ACU vs Jim DeMint(!), and more that I didn’t cover tonight because I had to go to the grocery store, as I had no food in my new home and wanted to go pick some up before 2am.

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