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Cyber Policy and the State of the Union

By Sarah Austin

President Obama’s speech to the American people during his State of the Union address took a much different tone toward technology and cyber policy than we’re used to seeing.


While we may be used to the President focusing on the need for technological advancements and calling for a larger investment in Information Technology, he only briefly mentioned the recent success of these efforts. The President discussed how he has launched hubs for high-tech manufacturing and connected 99 percent of American students to high-speed Internet, but this time the focus of his cyber attention was on national security and the surveillance programs that many Americans find to be intrusive.


In an effort to defend his administration’s surveillance programs, the President emphasized that “our leadership and our security cannot depend on military alone.” He continued to explain that American intelligence and surveillance programs are important to national security because terrorists prefer to fight us on the ground, and military intelligence is how the nation effectively combats terrorism and prevents “large-scale deployments that drain our strength and may ultimately feed extremism.”


Along with the defense of military intelligence and government surveillance programs, President Obama also addressed the distrust that many American’s have toward these programs. He reassured the American people that public confidence is vital to the success of the intelligence community, and that he is working with Congress to reform surveillance programs so that “the privacy of the ordinary people is not being violated.”


The debate between privacy and national security is one that the President will revisit frequently in the next few months as he works with Congress, the NSA and the FBI to reform the potentially invasive surveillance programs and the way they collect and store data.


You can keep up with the State of the Union on the White House’s new web page. The President even answered a few fortunate Americans’ follow-up questions via video chat during “A Virtual Road Trip with President Obama”. On this virtual road trip, President Obama is asked a pressing question about net neutrality, and he ensures Americans that his administration is doing everything in its power to preserve it. Another American asks the President for more details regarding NSA surveillance programs, and the President, once again, responds in favor of privacy and the reform of invasive data-collection programs.

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