Former U.S. President Clinton at RSA

Posted February 21, 2011, 1:31 pm by Curtis Blount

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Curtis Blount

At the close of RSA, Former U.S. President Bill Clinton closed the conference with his talk entitled “Embracing Our Common Humanity”. Unfortunately the speech wasn’t so much about Embracing Humanity (which we seem to have lost) and more about our responsibility as Security Professionals to be the Internet Police of the world ensuring that the Internet remain free. As we have all seen with the recent events in Egypt and now other parts of the Middle East, information must be allowed to flow freely. That freedom, however, does come with responsibility as President Clinton repeatedly stated “we must get back to reading and understanding the facts and not fall into Ideology”.

Overall the speech focused on the importance of making sure there is good political policy to back up new technologies and not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

Based on the conversations after the speech, clearly some Republicans and Tea Party members in the audience were none too happy with the political references to the current political climate.

Yes, the speech was political (i.e. Democratic) and yes it was clear the President was solidifying his legacy (which doesn’t need any help). Nevertheless, there are areas of the speech that directly relate to us Security Professionals. Especially those who lost jobs and benefits and who are just returning to work.

During the nearly hour-long speech, President Clinton ran through a brief history of economics and policy changes, emphasizing how the how the focus of the U.S. economy following his administration had led to a set of industries that didn’t encourage jobs.

“We went through a long eight-year period when there was no source of new jobs. When all of America’s economic growth were in housing, consumer spending and finance”, Clinton said. “And if you think about it, they’re all inherently self-limiting, and when you go beyond the limits they’re all fraught with opportunities for disaster”.

“Throughout history, everything that has value is subject to being stolen, or altered. So at one level, everyone in Cyber Security is sort of like the most modern cop on the beat. And you’re dealing with human nature’s inevitable tendency to try to take advantage of whatever the latest object of value is”.

With the focus on creating jobs, it is very clear that Information Technology and more specifically, Information Security must lead in that effort. Regardless of the sectors of job creation, renewable energy, high speed rail, high-speed Internet, etc Information Security must lead the way in developing new ways to detect and defend data.

“You can have all the technology you want, but if you don’t have good information, you’re going to make the wrong choices,” Clinton said. “Put politics aside and focus on the data at hand”. “We are the oldest living Democracy on the planet, however all great Democracies must reinvent themselves in order to survive”.

We need to understand where we are, where we’re going and what we need to do. Regardless of your political affiliation, we are all Americans. We all have a stake in the future of this great Democracy, so let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work.

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Edited January 12, 2018 by Kim
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