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White House Outlines Comprehensive Strategy for Cyberspace Issues White House Outlines Comprehensive Strategy for Cyberspace Issues

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Technology / TechnOLOGY

White House Outlines Comprehensive Strategy for Cyberspace Issues

U.S. government cybersecurity efforts will be better-coordinated according to the new White House proposal.(Jim Watson/Getty)

photo of Josh Smith
May 16, 2011

The White House outlined plans to coordinate all efforts related to the Internet in its first-ever International Strategy for Cyberspace released on Monday—a plan short on technical details but includes a range of expected “norms,” including a respect for privacy and property.

“This strategy outlines not only a vision for the future of cyberspace, but an agenda for realizing it,” President Obama wrote in an introduction to the plan. “It provides the context for our partners at home and abroad to understand our priorities, and how we can come together to preserve the character of cyberspace and reduce threats we face.”

While a range of U.S. government agencies deal with cyberspace issues in one way or another, no effort has been made to comprehensively coordinate among the various departments, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

 

The strategy lays out an agenda for the United States to “build an international environment that ensures global networks are open to new innovations, interoperable the world over, secure enough to support people’s work, and reliable enough to earn their trust.” The United States will “build and sustain an environment in which norms of responsible behavior guide states’ actions, sustain partnerships, and support the rule of law.”

“The International Strategy is larger than any one department or agency,” said Howard Schmidt, White House cybersecurity coordinator. “It is a strong foundation for the diverse activities we will carry out across our entire government."

The 30-page strategy is missing technical details but combines and extends multiple American cyber policies. As a statement of policy, the strategy includes norms like fundamental freedoms, respect for privacy and property, security, reliable and stable access to networks, and partnerships for Internet governance.

Clinton, whose State Department has taken the lead among U.S. agencies in advocating for Internet freedom, said the strategy represents the next stage of government cyberspace policy.

“We seek to maximize the internet’s tremendous capacity to accelerate human progress, while sharpening our response and our tools to deal with the threats and the problems and the disputes that are part of cyberspace,” she said.

The White House rolled out the document on Monday at a star-studded event that featured Clinton and Schmidt, as well as Attorney General Eric Holder, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Assistant to the President for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security John Brennan, and Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn.

A string of technology advocacy and industry groups praised the plan, including the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Business Software Alliance, and the Information Technology Industry Council.

“To date, the international community has lacked the collective willingness to engage in a meaningful conversation on the need for a global approach," said ITI President Dean Garfield. "U.S. leadership is critical to reaching a consensus solution."

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