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Napolitano Indicates DHS and NSA Cybersecurity Agreement Will Not Infringe on Civil Liberties

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Thursday at the National Symposium on Homeland Security and Defense in Colorado Springs that a new agreement struck between the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security, announced in October, takes into account privacy and civil liberties. Napolitano indicated that the agreement will allow DHS to draw on NSA expertise on cybersecurity issues, highlighting that NSA’s resources could be used “appropriately” for civilian purposes as well as traditional defense purposes.

DHS Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity and Communications, Michael Brown, pointed out that “the agreement does not give the military authority to operate inside the U.S. in the event of a cyber attack,” and would not infringe on civil rights or expand the role of the military. “What it does do is formalize the process by which [the Department of Defense] and DHS will work together to protect the nation’s cybernetworks and increases the clarity of focus of our respective roles and responsibilities.”

Napolitano noted that the agencies were particularly aware of the need to be cognizant of privacy and civil liberties issues, which have been built into the framework of the agreement. She observed that DHS and the military are together responsible for 95 to 99 percent of the federal jurisdiction for cybersecurity, making the partnership a logical and necessary step that will make the most of both departments’ resources and expertise.


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