Congress and the Feds should clean up their own act

Congress and the Feds should clean up their own act

Summary: Every once in a while you'll get a political hearing on capitol hill where elected Government officials will grand stand and politicize issues that should have nothing to do with politics.  Sandy Berger stole secret documents from the National Archives by shoving them in to his socks so will Congressman Waxman propose a new law against socks?

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TOPICS: Software
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Every once in a while you'll get a political hearing on capitol hill where elected Government officials will grand stand and politicize issues that should have nothing to do with politics.  Sandy Berger stole secret documents from the National Archives by shoving them in to his socks so will Congressman Waxman propose a new law against socks?This time it's Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman who says he is considering new laws against P2P (Peer to Peer) software citing the possibility that P2P software may compromise National Security and can be used by organized crime.  The problem is that Mr. Waxman hasn't a clue what he's talking about and this new round of political grandstanding is absurd.

The Federal Government should clean up their own security act because year after year they get failing or near failing grades.  Mr. Waxman is slamming Lime Wire for producing software that may circumvent Federal Government security, but the real question is why are Federal Government IT departments allowing Federal employees to install Lime Wire or any other piece of software on Government computers?  The mere fact that Government Employees have administrative access to install software on their computers let alone computers with access to sensitive information is absurd.  If you can't even keep employees from installing Lime Wire, you're sure as hell not going to prevent them from installing root kits which are infinitely more destructive.

Why pick on Lime Wire?  Sandy Berger stole secret documents from the National Archives by shoving the documents in to his socks so will Congressman Waxman propose a new law against socks?  Will Congressman Waxman call the CEO of Fruit of the Loom to the hearings and grill him about the dangers of socks?  If we're afraid that Federal Employees with use P2P software to divulge national secrets, shouldn't we be afraid they'll use the fax machine too?  Shouldn't we be more worried about the type of employees we place in to sensitive positions?  While we're at it, why not make Malware illegal?  Oh yeah, they're already illegal but that hasn't stopped them.  The onus is on the IT organization to lock down their end points and network resources so that malicious software doesn't get in to their infrastructure in the first place.  The onus is on the Government or any organization to lock down their infrastructure from the physical layer to the application layer to the people working for them.

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Topic: Software

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  • I agree

    I read about this on someone else's blog or off the ZDnet news feed today and I had the same opinions as you about it (except the socks thing never crossed my mind though). This is grandstanding to be sure. Someone needs to hold their IT Directors responsible for these breeches... there is no reason given the budget and resources the fedral government has that P2P should ever be a security issue on government computers and the computers allowed to tele-commute. Furthermore as you've noted our government in general does a poor job of staying on top of security in general.
    beatphreek
    • The socks thing was just something that popped up in my mind

      The socks thing was just something that popped up in my mind. I thought this is essentially what Waxman is doing.
      georgeou
    • oh and the author forgot

      usb sticks

      (Mr bill (from snl old school))

      Oh Nooooooooooooo!

      Clueless congressman.. totally and utterly 100% clueless on this issue. I cant wait to vote reps like this out.
      pcguy777
  • Look at what the Fed freaks did when PGP came out

    They basically attempted to suppress it and for years legally harassed its creator, Philip Zimmermann, with a criminal investigation. They literally attacked him with "munitions export without a license."

    I am not making this up. They classified it as a "weapon" because it kept their F-ing noses out of our business.
    SpaceCowboyNJ
    • I remember that

      I remember reading something about that. It took YEARS for him to finally get the feds off his back and that only happened because he finally contacted some senators and they intervened.

      We are going to have to realize that government is NOT out to protect anyone. It is out to force 'morality' on people (something that you cannot do and should not do because morality is RELATIVE to each person, excepting "do not kill anyone unless they are trying to kill you!"), keep people in the dark that they are spying on everything that you do, and keep people ignorant of basic truths in this world.
      Leria
  • Its the Clipper Chip all over again.

    As soon as politicians get involved in regulating computer technology their technophobias become revealed to all.

    Between the Luddites and the clueless, Congress is packed full of them.
    Xwindowsjunkie
  • Based on your side...

    I have no reason to consider making Peer 2 Peer software illegal. Although I think that Peer 2 Peer Software shouldn't be illegal just by the simple notion that you can't kill a crime by killing the conduit at which the sensitive data is passed.

    Why don't we ban all of these computers because they allow us to send and receive files, or ban the internet because we can share ideas. A much hotter topic is guns for the same reason. Guns don't kill people, people do. Peer 2 peer programs don't share sensitive data, people do. Violent video games and Jackass movies don't kill people. The stupid people that decide that they need to copy what they see do.

    I could rant on this all day about how government wants to attack a problem by attacking the root of the problem which in turn is actually just one of the many conduits to which the crime is perpetrated.
    nucrash
  • Bet you a Core 2 Quad that...

    Your beloved Congressman is on the take from either the RIAA or the MPAA or some company that is affliated with either the motion picture or recording industry.

    The reasoning behind this is because this appears to be too obscure reasoning not to be associated with some one from that side. The lack of mention of music and movie piracy is reason enough to peak my curiousity. That one be the second or third if not the primary reason to make P2P technology illegal.
    nucrash
    • How Ironic

      This person happens to just represent the district of California that is home of towns like Los Angeles and Hollywood.

      I should dig deeper, I might find just how deep the rabbit hole goes.
      nucrash
    • they were there nutcrash if not in person in spirit

      they were there nutcrash if not in person in spirit.

      the Republicans have the oil companies and the Democrats have Hollywood and the Entertainment industry.

      so they are going to make laws that favor there donors.

      thats the way politics works and we not having the millions to donate to the party's just have to take the scraps that fall from the table.

      so you can bet they have a hand in this
      SO.CAL Guy
      • I don't doubt this

        However, they could have been a little more original in their plot to disrupt technology.

        My confusion is about the fact that they apparently don't want to ban P2P technology, then what exactly do they want.

        This is like Censuring President Bush, why?
        nucrash
        • I don't know what they want. Maybe a few campaign contributions will make

          I don't know what they want. Maybe a few campaign contributions will make this all go away?
          georgeou
          • $100 from 1 million

            Perhaps we could by our own politicians.

            We just need to gather a force large enough to successfully purchase our own politician as well as have enough shared views.
            nucrash
          • Problem is that $100 from 1 million people will neutralize each other

            Problem is that $100 from 1 million people will neutralize each other. The problem with campaign finance reform is that it actually created a much bigger problem. Banning large political contributions created a MUCH larger problem because now you have large contributions that go through complicated proxies that are dispersed so it's much less transparent on where the money actually came from. Banning soft money created a much bigger problem with the 527s.

            I personally take the Libertarian approach that defines campaign finance in 4 words. No limit, full disclosure. If some politician is going to take a million dollars from someone, fine. I would rather it be disclosed that a politician took $X,XXX,XXX from an individual or company rather than have that money filtered through 1000 people in tiny payments which makes it impossible to see where the money came from. You can?t ban money and you certainly don?t want the media to be able to pick and choose who gets air time. The only solution is to have more transparency.
            georgeou
          • Another reason to be Libertarian

            I always shared my views with the Libretarian community and started following their party around 2003 or 2004.

            Granted, I have a bit more of a Green party stance when it comes to environmental issues, but when dealing with politics in general, I like for things to work themselves out.

            Full disclosure would be better, however, the same issue would exist. A company would create a foundation or shelter company to hide their tracks as best they could. How would want to be tied to big oil or Hollywood? I would love to find out who is in the pocket of which company though.
            nucrash
          • RE:Campaign contributions...

            It's probably a sizable campaign contribution from the RIAA that got Waxman spouting off in the first place.


            It doesn't matter if our congressmen are running for office or not. They passed a law which allows them to convert the campaign contributions they've received to personal funds if they retire or don't run for office in the future. So that makes "campaign contributions" the equivalent of bribes. We have the best congress money can buy because most of them have been bought off. They are learning their lessons well because with over 1200 "earmarks" on various funding legislation they are trying to buy off the voter, too.
            GreyGeek
  • I am not sure that would work.

    While I do agree with you, I know that they are not up to the job. Here is how I came to this conclusion:

    A couple of relatives of mine have held government jobs, one of them told me or the incompitence and waste that happened internally (he was DOE, very high level of clearance). For years I could not believe him, how could they be this stupid (or clueless or wasteful)? This can't be true (even though he told me of countless stupid things they spent on, etc.)

    Last year, I contracted to the VA for a period. In this period, there was the incident where a laptop containing veterans data was "misplaced" or "lost" via some contractor. The secretary of the VA passed upon a letter (wish I had kept a copy) saying that laptops could not be used. Several of the researchers where I was working were using laptops (as well as myself), typically their own.

    It was not until a somewhat embarrassing Congressional Committee hearing that it cam to light that they did not have a clue what was going on. I recall the Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson being told by some aid when asked by one of the Congressman if any IT people were involved in the decision making process and one of Nicholsons aids told him that the guy had sumbitted his resignation (quit) that day. Nicholson responded to the question saying that no IT people were at the meeting or involved in the decision process. Mind you, nobody where I was working stopped using/bringing their laptops (especially the contractors, of which I was one)!

    That is how the Federal Government is, they are so isolated form reality that all they have for data is the crap fed to them during Congressional junkets. All they really know is what the PACs tell them, they have no actual exposure to reality outside of Washington (where they spend most of their time).
    B.O.F.H.
  • Socks

    "Sandy Berger stole secret documents from the National Archives by shoving the documents in to his socks so will Congressman Waxman propose a new law against socks? Will Congressman Waxman call the CEO of Fruit of the Loom to the hearings and grill him about the dangers of socks?"

    All we really need to do is call on the Socksy the Socks Sprite and wish away all the socks in the world. It worked for Mike's socks... :)

    Carl Rapson
    rapson
    • And, Fruit of the Loom makes socks?

      I thought Mr. Ou was going to point out that the carrying capacity of underwear was far greater than that of ordinary-sized socks, and ask why Mr. Waxman didn't make searching inquiries about what's being done to prevent abuse of underwear to the detriment of national security.
      Anton Philidor
      • I believe they do

        Haven't you seen the Michael Jordan/Matthew Perry/Kevin Bacon commercials?

        But I guess no one picked up on my "MST3K" reference. That was one of my favorite episodes, too...

        Carl Rapson
        rapson