The Complex

Ex-Canadian Army chief warns of increased gov't control in cyberspace

In case you haven't been following it, the Twitter traffic from today's Cyber Dialogue 2013 at the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs featured a great quote from a recently retired Canadian general.

Lt. Gen. Andrew Leslie (chief of the Canadian Army from 2006 to 2010, shown above in 2009) apparently made a comment that yours truly has heard plenty of times in Washington: a major, destructive cyber attack would likely prompt a knee-jerk reaction from governments that greatly expanded their control of the Internet. Killer Apps wasn't at the event to hear the quote directly, but here's what people who were at the event tweeted about it.

Taylor Owen, research director at Columbia University's Tow Center for Digital Journalism, tweeted that the general's comments sent "a chill over" the conference:

 "@taylor_owen wow, Andy Leslie sends a chill over cyberdialogue "You are all running out of time before 'people like me' try to govern cyberspace #cd13"

Scott Carpenter of Google Ideas called the Canadian general's comment "a weird threat":

 "@JSCarpenter11 Weird threat from a former general: "you're running out if time" b/c once "something bad" happens in cyber gov't will assert control #cd13"

Finally, Richard Bejtlich, chief security officer at cyber firm Mandiant, tweeted:

 "@taosecurity At #CD13 retired Canadian general warns "you're running out if time" because once "something bad" happens in cyber, gov will assert control."

It's interesting to see cyber professionals from some of the foremost institutions in tech, business, and journalism express surprise over Leslie's comments. U.S. lawmakers have made similar comments throughout the last year in trying to pass cyber security legislation.

Reps. Mike Rogers and Dutch Ruppersburger -- co-sponsors of CISPA, the cyber security bill currently being worked on in the House -- have used this argument several times in an attempt to push lawmakers to adopt their bill, which civil liberties advocates say is harmful to individual privacy rights.

Last summer, James Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies warned that a destructive cyber attack will likely result in Congress passing legislation that runs roughshod over privacy rights.

Bruce MacRae, Flickr


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