Reclaiming Our Cyber Security in the Digital Ageby Michael Chertoff
A powerful argument for new laws and policies regarding cyber-security, from the former Secretary of Homeland Security
The most dangerous threat we—individually and as a society and country—face today is no longer military, but rather the increasingly pervasive exposure of our personal information; nothing undermines our freedom more than losing control of information about ourselves. And yet, as daily events underscore, we are ever more vulnerable to cyber-attack.
In this bracing book, Michael Chertoff makes clear that our laws and policies surrounding the protection of personal information, written for an earlier time, need to be completely overhauled in the Internet era. On the one hand, the collection of data—more widespread by business than by government, and impossible to stop—should be facilitated as an ultimate protection for society. On the other, standards under which information can be inspected, analyzed, or used must be significantly tightened. In offering his compelling call for action, Chertoff argues that what is at stake is not so much the simple loss of privacy, which is almost impossible to protect, but of individual autonomy—the ability to make personal choices free of manipulation or coercion. Offering colorful stories over many decades that illuminate the three periods of data gathering we have experienced, Chertoff explains the complex legalities surrounding issues of data collection and dissemination today, and charts a path that balances the needs of government, business, and individuals alike.
“Few people—maybe only Michael Chertoff—could write a book like this. It combines his unique experience as Federal prosecutor, judge, assistant attorney general on 9/11 and then Secretary of Homeland Security to describe in layman’s language the ubiquity of “digital exhaust” we leave for others to learn about us and lawfully or unlawfully track us. This “must read” book describes the barriers to “opting out” and the need to modernize legal authorities if we are to protect both security and privacy.”—Jane Harman, CEO of the Wilson Center and former member of U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence and Homeland Security committees
“In terms of insight, intellect, and experience, Michael Chertoff is uniquely placed to undertake diagnosis and offer prescriptions for the range of contemporary dangers to our security. He addresses those threats, both man-made and natural, with a clarity of thought and conviction of purpose that provides an immense service and inspiration to all of us, far beyond the shores of his own homeland.”—John Reid, former UK Home Secretary and Defense Secretary
“A valuable tool for emergency management and homeland security practitioners in all sectors and of all levels. It addresses a wider audience by challenging policymakers to continue crafting workable solutions . . . It also provides a starting point for scholarly research. But, most important, it makes you think.”—Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management
“As memories of 9/11 fade, the nation has required a tough-minded realism against growing complacency. In Michael Chertoff, the nation had a keen thinker, a straight talker, an honest broker, and a diligent doer at the head of the Department of Homeland Security. Michael Chertoff remains driven to inform and persuade. In comprehensive fashion, this book tells America and the world what we’ve been doing and what we still must do to enhance our safety and security.”—Frances M. Fragos Townsend, former homeland security adviser to President George W. Bush
“Michael Chertoff offers a clear-eyed assessment of the threats we face and how to confront them. Among his good ideas are the use of soft power to project and protect America’s values, and improved efforts to prepare—rather than scare—an anxious public. In contrast to the toxic political environment that surrounded him, Chertoff’s pragmatism and lack of partisanship are on full display, and he has written a valuable primer for his very able successor.”—Representative Jane Harman (D., Calif.), chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence and Terrorism Risk Assessment
“America’s response to the 9/11 tragedy was the establishment of a new Department of Homeland Security created from 22 separate federal agencies. Just about every issue imaginable came to this new department, from protecting our borders and ensuring the safety of passengers in the air from terrorist attacks to maintaining defenses against natural disasters. Michael Chertoff, only the second person to serve as secretary in this office, describes with penetrating analysis the strategy that has emerged from this huge challenge, the eyes-open risk-costs analysis that has made it manageable, and the steps that have been taken to turn this gigantic effort into a well-coordinated and effective line of defense for our citizens. What a useful gift to his new successor, former Governor Janet Napolitano.”—William Webster, chairman, Homeland Security Advisory Council, former FBI director, former CIA director