For most Americans, the WikiLeaks Vault7 release of the CIA’s hacking tools, techniques, and capabilities has created quite a conundrum. Here is how I see it:
Cyber has become the primary weapon for warfare, revolutions, and politics. As a nation, those responsible for protecting our nation must maintain superiority in that realm vis-a-vis other nations, terrorist groups, and anyone else who would do us harm. Put simply, if anybody is capable of creating and using these weapons offensively, we want it to be us, not those who want to destroy us.
I believe that most Americans understand this, expect this, and want this (at a certain level), as long as it is strictly limited in its purpose and execution. The problem is that it is not strictly limited in its purpose and execution, now, if it ever has been. The problem is the politicization of our intelligence community and other similar agencies of government whose stated purpose is to protect us and better ensure our national security but seem to be being used in ways that detract from our personal security and overall liberty. Releases of information such as Has it always been this way? Perhaps. But now, more than ever, it seems as though we are cutting down our trees as fast as we can in an effort to save our forest.
Releases of information such as this unquestionably hurt our national security. But the misuse of our intelligence agencies and the information they obtain also hurts our national security. Has it always been this way? Have our intelligence agencies always been politicized? Perhaps.
But now, more than ever, it seems as though we are cutting down our trees as fast as we can in an effort to save our forest.
In the world of forests, sometimes that must be done, such as with wildfires to create firebreaks that serve as a barrier to prevent the burning of the entire forest. But when it is done, it is precise, limited, and strategic, focused only on its intended purpose.
Shawn Tuma (@shawnetuma) is a business lawyer with an internationally recognized reputation in cybersecurity, computer fraud, and data privacy law. He is a Cybersecurity & Data Privacy Partner at Scheef & Stone, LLP, a full-service commercial law firm in Texas that represents businesses of all sizes throughout the United States and, through its Mackrell International network, around the world.