back to article Mr President, is this a war on hackers – or a war on people stopping hackers?

This week, President Obama unveiled three new fronts in his war on scary computer hackers – but so far very few people are impressed, and a lot of folks are very worried about the direction he is taking. Obama outlined three areas he is looking to concentrate on in the coming legislative session: better information sharing …

  1. P. Lee

    They just don't care do they?

    "Make'm all criminals and we'll just prosecute who we want."

    Why bother with laws at all?

    I guess that's the point. Pesky democracy with laws!

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: They just don't care do they?

      I guess you missed the email... we're all guilty until proven innocent.

      1. earl grey

        Re: They just don't care do they?

        Well, you're guilty. Not so much, me.

    2. Preston Munchensonton
      Big Brother

      Re: They just don't care do they?

      "The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced or objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt."

      That's from Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. But she was a bat-shit crazy, right-wing loon, so I guess we'll be just fine.

  2. Tree

    Trust me

    Trust me. I never lie.


  3. Message From A Self-Destructing Turnip


    Give us all your data, you wouldn't want what happened to Sony to happen to you... would you...?

  4. dan1980

    ". . . even retweeting a link to leaked information, will land you in deep trouble."

    What do you mean "even". That's the main point of this proposed law - to extend the list of people who can be prosecuted (and thus threatened) in cases of whistle-blowers. They want as cold and as wide a chilling effect as possible.

    This has nothing to do with 'hacking'.

    1. RLouisW

      You're right - nothing to do with hacking. The administration wants to cast as wide of a net as possible and cherry-pick prosecutions based on political beliefs.

  5. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Obama's presidence is really the fail train without brakes.

    Totally fits into the accelerating medievalization of society at the request of special interests that has been pushed for the last 30 years.

    Don't talk, don't work, don't copy, don't hide, don't save, don't transact, don't read, don't think, don't research, don't hope, don't change unless the government gives you explicit approval.

    Or a SWAT team will pull up.

  6. Crisp

    Will the US Government be trying to enforce these laws in the UK?

    Let's face it, they've got form for it.

  7. jake Silver badge

    Obama, like all politicians, is computer illiterate.

    When he says "hackers", he really means "crackers". I'm a hacker. I only crack systems when payed to do so by the owner of that system (unlike the NSA, for example ...).

    The idiots making the laws scare me a hell of a lot more than the skiddies cracking into insecure-by-design systems.

    1. SolidSquid

      Re: Obama, like all politicians, is computer illiterate.

      While I recognise that this terminology is used within the hacking community, it isn't used the same way outside of the community (even by people who are familiar with computers). "Hackers" has become the term used for "Crackers", with what you'd term a hacker being considered by those outside of the hacking community as "security researchers", or something along those lines anyway

    2. Preston Munchensonton

      Re: Obama, like all politicians, is computer illiterate.

      But that's not a Presidential hacker reporting form. Those are blue.

  8. solo

    The case of Aaron Swartz

    Thanks a ton for mentioning. His name still causes a chilling effect in me. Had this been Google, it'd have gotten the laws changed (as with scanning copyrighted books).

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: The case of Aaron Swartz

      Yes, but it's a bit disingenuous to use him as the poster-boy for the particular line of argument Thompson is making. Swartz wasn't conducting research; he stole a bunch of copyrighted property from JSTOR, which is owned by a private (nonprofit) company. It was a stupid stunt that should have earned nothing more than a slap on the wrist, of course, but it was still theft and by no means research.

      I'm no fan of the police state or anti-racketeering laws; if I had my druthers, the latter would be off the books and prosecutors like Ortiz and Heymann (who had charge of the Swartz case) would be fired. But in fact the abuse of RICO-style statutes (including the CFAA) is so widespread that Thompson wouldn't have had to look far for more examples. That's particularly true of asset forfeiture, which is a major source of funding for police departments.

      Swartz is a tragic case and an example of how abusive the US criminal justice system is. But frankly he's not a great example of the chilling use of overreaching laws. Outrageously excessive penalties, unnecessary prosecutions, and extortion by the state - all of that - but Swartz was committing a crime (albeit a rather trivial one) and apparently had no affirmative defense for doing so.

      I think a much clearer example is the case Jessica Cooper brought against Leon Walker, who read his estranged wife's email with the password she gave him and alerted another parent to the fact that she was putting that parent's child in danger. To Cooper, that calls for jail time.

      1. solo

        Re: The case of Aaron Swartz

        "..he's not a great example of the chilling use of overreaching laws.."

        Really? Read how the victim of the case felt:


        Quote: "..The criminal investigation and today’s indictment of Mr. Swartz has been directed by the United States Attorney’s Office. It was the government’s decision whether to prosecute, not JSTOR’s. As noted previously, our interest was in securing the content. Once this was achieved, we had no interest in this becoming an ongoing legal matter.."


        Quote: "..The case is one that we ourselves had regretted being drawn into from the outset.."

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why am I not surprised

    ...that abolishing SSNs - and other government-mandated invitations to massive fraud - is not among the proposals?

    1. Eddy Ito

      Re: Why am I not surprised

      But without a SSN what else can they use to track every single microscopic detail and dollar in your life? It doesn't do them any real harm if your identity is stolen, credit trashed and you're tossed in debtors' prison since you're just a little fish in a big ocean. I mean sure if you've got enough money you can do a pretty good job of hiding things but why should the government bother itself with the big fish when it's much easier to keep the rest of us schooled in a bait ball for easy pickings.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why am I not surprised

        Well then bring on the datapocalypse. Let the anarchists steal all the IDs, clone everyone a hundred times, destroy the govt's ability to dish out punishments and benefits. Hell, hack the govt and tweak their records. New anti-hacking laws aren't gonna stop that! That's one way to change things, if nobody in power has the foresight to do so in a less disruptive manner, lest they yield a shred of control.

  10. Mike 16 Silver badge


    Are something else in the US. Most of them are Republicans these days.

    As for "racketering", that's an all-purpose enhancement to strip the defendant (even in a civil suit) of anything they might use to hire a lawyer.

  11. Mr Templedene

    So mandatory minimum levels of security and encryption of customer data help by the business holding it isn't going to be made law any time soon?

    Oh no, because that might harm profits.

  12. AJames

    With friends like these...

    I have to say that Mr. Obama has been a huge disappointment to his small-d democratic constituency in the United States and internationally. Not only has he failed to deliver on almost every front that he promised, he has frankly shown a worrying expediency in accommodating lobbyists and a lack of commitment to the ideals he espouses in his speeches. Let this been a lesson for big-D Democrats next time they vote: ignore the speechifying and take a closer look at the man and his track record.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Several business owners and corporate officers have said; "We own the hardware, software, pay for the electricity, pay for the communications, own the communication lines and other means. We pay for the airwaves, and encryption and the data belongs to us.

    We will not provide a single bit of information unless we want to, or authorities present a search warrant issued by a seated judge."

    Others went on to say: "We won't tolerate any more infringement on our rights and if government or corporations try to force it, they should be prepared to come under a military attack".

    I did not hear the statements directly but were relayed to me in quotation. But clearly from those types of statements, lots os American's are very angry and see government as being very overreaching.


  14. kellerr13

    Mr. Obama

    Sieg Heil !

    Sieg Heil !

    Sieg Heil !

    Sieg Heil !

    Sieg Heil !

    Sieg Heil !

    Sieg Heil !

    Sieg Heil !

  15. Richard Altmann

    To catch a hacker

    you need a hacker. Well, the US or UK or whatever governments will always end up with the low lifes. No selfrespecting hacker is ever going to work for them except they send Granny to Gitmo.

    And that´s where my statement collapses.

    "Granny, since weeks i´m talking to your AM and there´s this black SUVs outside my gate ..."

    You wont let Granny down, wont you? It´s just a few keystrokes

  16. Florida1920

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