Cybersecurity: Like with National Security, Let’s Contract Out to People Who Know What They’re Doing

Seton Motley President, Less Government
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Members of Congress have dubbed this “Cyber Security Week,”  during which:

The House is set to take the lead in considering a wide range of measures designed to bolster America’s cyber-defenses…, taking on as many as four cybersecurity bills….

The Barack Obama Administration is, of course, way far out in the wrong direction.

Pushed by the White House, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee leaders proposed sweeping legislation that includes greater government oversight of some critical private networks.

The Administration is also demanding all sorts of our private information be rendered unto Caesar, often with very little in the way of limits, or protections. Shocker. Even the best bill – Congressman Mike Rogers’ CISPA – is too government-centric and overly broad, and has raised concerns all across the ideological spectrum.

The federal government does everything in a tectonically-slow, ham-and-heavy-handed manner.  Nowhere would this be more devastatingly damaging than were they in charge of anything having to do with the lightening-fast World Wide Web. But we have for cyberecurity a far better model to emulate – the military contractor model.

The federal government is boob-erific in just about everything it does. The government is terrible at creating programs. Social Security is broke. Medicare is broke. Medicaid – broke. The Post Office – broke. Amtrak – busted. And on, and on, and…. General Services Administration (GSA), anyone?

The government is terrible as a venture capitalist. Government General Motors will lose us at least $30 billion. In the non-green non-energy sector alone, at least fourteen President Barack Obama-subsidized solar companies alone have already gone belly-up.

The less we have the federal government do, the better, which is, coincidentally, how the Constitution was written.

But then there’s national defense – a Constitutionally-proscribed federal duty, and one that is by and large run pretty well:  in part because our volunteer men and women are beyond extraordinary; and in part because a great deal of our military processes are contracted out to private companies who are experts in their fields.

The Defense Department doesn’t devise, design and build jets – companies like McDonnell Douglas do. Military electronics and all manner of technical hard and software are produced by companies like Northrop Grumman, not the Pentagon.

There is of course waste, fraud and abuse here too. But that is in part due to poor oversight by the government (GSA, anyone?).  You can certainly be angry with the thieves who robbed you – but if you left your doors unlocked, you’re partly on the hook.

But at the end of the day, who do you trust more? A for-profit private company, that wins a competitive bidding process? Or the biggest, most incompetent nightmare monopoly of them all – the federal government? How are government schools doing it for you?

Cybersecurity is certainly a part of national security. There is, therefore, a legitimate federal government role to be played.  And it should be the same role largely played with Defense – contracting out to people who know what they’re doing.

These contractors should handle all day-to-day Internet security. And keep the government apprised of issues as they arise. And keep the We the People information-sharing to an absolutely-necessary national-security minimum. Like we have recommended private companies do with all things privacy and the government.

Simple concept, no? More of a Cyber Security Moment than a Week, but the results will be infinitely better.

Seton Motley is the president of Less Government.