Obama Announces National Emergency: Imposes Sanctions On Hackers

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In order to stop the ‘worst of the worst’ from attacking America and its businesses online, US president Barack Obama recently signed the first-ever executive order authorizing the US government to impose sanctions on people, organizations and governments that indulge in malicious cyber-enabled activities against the country.

According to the Treasury, “malicious cyber-enabled activities” include “deliberate activities accomplished through unauthorized access to a computer system, including by remote access; circumventing one or more protection measures, including by bypassing a firewall or compromising the security of hardware or software in the supply chain”.

The ‘national emergency’ entails freezing of assets of people believed to pose significant threats to the US security or economy by damaging or compromising critical infrastructure; misappropriating funds or economic resources, trade secrets, personal identifiers, or financial information for commercial or competitive advantage or private financial gain; knowingly receiving or using trade secrets that were stolen by cyber-enabled means for commercial or competitive advantage or private financial gain; disrupting the availability of a computer or network of computers; and attempting, assisting or providing material support for any of the above activities.

“The same technologies that help keep our military strong are used by hackers in China and Russia to target our defense contractors and systems that support our troops. This Executive Order authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of State, to impose sanctions on individuals or entities that engage in malicious cyber-enabled activities that create a significant threat to the national security, foreign policy, or economic health or financial stability of the United States”, Obama said in a statement.

The executive order is a “response to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s ongoing provocative, destabilizing, and repressive actions and policies, particularly its destructive and coercive cyber attack against Sony Pictures Entertainment and threats against movie theaters and moviegoers”.

Though Obama said the powers would not be used to “target the legitimate cyber security research community or professionals who help companies improve their cyber security. And unlike some other countries, we will never try to silence free expression online or curb internet freedom”, critics claim that the new cyber law could be used against legitimate hackers attempting to secure the Internet.

This executive order is another salvo on President Obama’s war on hackers. The President already has the power to deal directly with the threat of Chinese hackers, and should do so. However broad or vague, power grabs like this are unneeded, and threaten people that have nothing to do with the Chinese hacker threat. It’s a suspension of civil liberties, plain and simple”, said Robert Graham, who has previously criticised the US government’s attempts to counter online crime.

“This measure would have been something to pass in the nineties, when technologies for irreversible currency transactions didn’t exist. As it stands, this is just going to hasten the advance of Bitcoin’s adoption by criminal enterprises. Courts cannot seize Bitcoin without seizing the keys, which are held in countries hostile to United States enforcement arms. Obama’s administration continually attempts to give the impression they’re fighting foreign cyber-crime, but every single indictment seems to be aimed at United States activists. I was falsely imprisoned by the Obama administration and tortured for legitimate and lawful public criticisms of his corporate allies. Before passing more regulations, his administration should do their duty of making amends to me for the terroristic violence it performed upon me”, said Andrew Auernheimer, a 29-year-old computer hacker who was sentenced to prison for disclosing a security vulnerability that affected AT&T and Apple.

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19 COMMENTS

  1. “If Obama puts asset sanctions on foreign hackers, should the rest of the world freeze & seize US government assets due to NSA attacks on us?”

    of course they should; typical american hypocrisy, slamming foreign hackers whilst employing hackers themselves

    • Well, something has to be done to stop it. I don’t always agree with the way the government does stuff, it usually doesn’t mean the way it sounds. Proof: The government has war on homelessness. That thought implies Housing, food and trade school, finally employment. No the make laws against feeding them, and fenced off and spike areas they may seek to have some sort of shelter and privacy. They made it even more harder on them as if they didn’t have it hard enough. Our govern ment is not here to tell us how to live or even have the duty to prevent homeless people from health. Medical care for the homeless is 29 times the cost of an apartment. They don’t see that for some cruel reason.

  2. Ah the spiraling decline of the internet. I hope other governments do the same thing to US when NSA does its bull. The countries that do it as part of their government like China US wont bother because China owns so much of US debt. It’s just something law enforcement can use against citizens. If a informant sends a reporter files on government coverup the government can use this law to freeze assets of the informant, the reporter, and the newspaper. They could use this against Snowden and newspapers he releases information to. It wont be aimed at other countries.

  3. This seems like smoke and mirrors. So what happens when a case is taken to court: Who is going to be able to prove the real actions either way? It would seem a logical conclusion might be that a court case like this would drag on and on for lengthy amounts of time resulting in obscene legal bills…

  4. This is what he wants to declare war on right now? A National Emergency? US citizens will be labeled Terrorist and arrested for crimes against the state, having their property seized over a Cyber crime!!?!! This is just another small step in the direction of removing our power to defend our-self against a tyrannical leader.

  5. This could be used by the government as an excuse to put down such groups that operate outside the law in hacking to preserve civilian interests. One worrying aspect of this is that it gives the president authority to completely freezes all assets of people even suspected to be part of the online Anonymous activist division. Could this be retaliation for OP #AwakeTheMasses? Ideas are bulletproof, but this could also erode at the freedoms of innocent bystanders, a new way for the government to threaten people without having evidence to convict them of actually doing a crime.

  6. They plan on people spazzing out or rolling over. They also plan on hackers being uneducated which seems rather oxymoronic to myself. P.$. This page is bugged.

  7. lol you think theses hackers are real people… ha what a joke its the government saying the internet is bad and needs to be monitored and controlled… ironic people still think there freedom among us you are highly mistaken we are all slaves

  8. The other side to that is political parties spending money to overwhelm all they can reach repetitively (which is what the Republicans do at Yahoo). No truth can reach you under the onslaught of corrupt money from the Koch Bros, Rupert Murdock and many other places. Protect the 99% Mr. President and not just the 1%. Fascism from Republicans and Monopolies usurps our near Democracy. One vote one human.

  9. So by that standard what kind of punishment is going to be given to the US government for their participation in the creation of Stuxnet which is arguably the #1 most malicious action to be carried out to date. What a fucking joke!

  10. well the whole world cant be incarcerated and since there is no such thing as freedom of speech or legal protesting anymore, what other options are left?

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