We need action on personal cybersecurity

We need action on personal cybersecurity
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As the partial government shutdown continues as the longest in history and news has emerged that President Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpChelsea Clinton announces birth of third child Ukrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report Trump attacks 'the Squad' as 'racist group of troublemakers' MORE is the target of an FBI counterintelligence investigation, we stand as a polarized nation still flailing about from a cyberattack on our democracy.

The Senate Intelligence Committee recently released a new report by the Computational Propaganda Project at Oxford University and Graphika, outlining Russian interference in the 2016 election through Facebook, Google and Twitter.

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Like the 9/11 bombers, the Russians used our powerful creations to attack us on our own soil. They exploited our existing divisions to drive deep wedges among Americans, among us. Like the passengers aboard United Airlines Flight 93, who voted affirmatively from the back of the plane to overtake their hijackers, we need to lean heavily on our democratic values to bring us back from the abyss.

As a mediator of complex federal public policy disputes for more than 30 years, I shudder as I witness unrelenting threats to our rule of law and scroll through the exhausting anger expressed on social media like Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingYoung Turks reporter tricks Steve King into tweeting about 'A Few Good Men' villain Holocaust survivor who offered to tour Auschwitz with Ocasio-Cortez calls for her to 'be removed from Congress' Liz Cheney hits back at Ocasio-Cortez over concentration camp comments: 'This isn't model Congress' MORE’s (R-Iowa) tweet, “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies,” or CNN tweeting that White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said, “furloughed federal workers who aren't getting paid during the partial government shutdown are ‘better off’ because they didn't have to use vacation days.”

In consideration of efforts to affirmatively practice democracy to draw Americans back to a shared view of who we are and what we stand for, I expect that very few of us want to be socially, politically, culturally or commercially manipulated.

As the country and the world await the pending report from special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerThis week: Mueller dominates chaotic week on Capitol Hill Top Republican considered Mueller subpoena to box in Democrats Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction MORE’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections, perhaps eventually our Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, State Department, Department of Commerce, Federal Communications Commission and perhaps, a new U.S. cyber department will protect our social media from future election attacks and enemy-bot exploitation.

The expectation is the special counsel, U.S. attorneys, attorneys general and district attorneys will charge, plead out and convict those complicit in attacks on our democracy.

Defense is critical, but the country needs a strong democracy offense.

To move past our polarization and rebuild our civic infrastructure, the U.S. needs a national effort to engage all interested citizens, stakeholders and affected companies to draw together to protect our personal cyber privacy and security. No one wants to be manipulated by enemy bots to vote a certain way or not vote at all. Most want privacy protections of likes and shares, photos and posts, as well as what we buy, read and eat and of course, our personal data — social security, passport and bank account numbers.

Although many slam Facebook, Google and Twitter for exploiting our personal data and not protecting us from fake posts and bots, the reality is these corporate entities cannot provide personal cyber security on their own. They need the authorities of government to do so. And we should all understand the difficult choices and tradeoffs between privacy and security and have a say in those nuanced decisions.

House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi, Mnuchin reach 'near-final agreement' on budget, debt ceiling Wendy Davis launches bid for Congress in Texas Steyer calls on Pelosi to cancel 'six-week vacation' for Congress MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report — Mueller Time: Dems, GOP ready questions for high-stakes testimony Election security to take back seat at Mueller hearing McConnell challenger faces tougher path after rocky launch MORE (R-Ky.) need to create a United States Congress Joint Select Committee on Personal Cyber Privacy and Security with authority to report out legislation to the Senate and the House of Representatives.

In 2017, Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerTrump tweets, rally chant dominate Sunday shows as president continues attacks Sunday shows - Fallout over Trump tweets Booker: Trump is 'worse than a racist' MORE (D-N.J.) introduced a bill to establish a Senate-only Select Committee on Cybersecurity (S. Res. 23) to consider legislation on national rather than personal cybersecurity. It gained no support beyond his sponsorship.

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This committee would appoint a supporting advisory committee, to publicly negotiate consensus legislation with the help of experts, affected stakeholders, the public at large and members of the Congressional Committee.

Similar efforts have been successful in developing regulations needed to implement laws passed by Congress. In the past 23 years, I have mediated 20 negotiated rule-making processes for five federal agencies on issues ranging from student loans to brownfields redevelopment and worker safety standards for construction cranes to affordable housing for Native Americans.

Most resulted in consensus regulations that met the interests of all stakeholders and as a result, deepened our national practice of democracy and increased faith in our system of governance because – “we, the people” transparently made the laws we live under.

Our democracy is threatened by a sense that the system is rigged in favor of the ultra-wealthy, who can buy their way to advantageous government policy and favors through high paid former government official lobbyists.

A transparent process, conducted in accordance with requirements similar to those of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, would enable citizens to watch in real time and participate in negotiations to develop solutions as well as make available all documents prepared to support it.

Such a process has never been undertaken in the legislative arena in this country. It would require a firm Congressional commitment to introduce and pass any consensus bills that emerge from the committee of the people as well as a well-designed process to enable excellence, productive negotiations and transparent and secure participation. In some ways, it could test strategies as it builds the means for personal cyber security.

As the midterms showed, we have a more engaged citizenry than we’ve had in decades. But much of that engagement stems from fear — fear of otherness on the right and fear of tyranny in the center and left.

To move from fear to hope, we need to use the civic energy of our democracy to build laws to address our shared public problems like personal cyber security. As has been said, the best defense is a strong offense.

In the face of enemy manipulation of our people, we, the people of the United States of America, need to defend our republic with our democratic best.

Susan Podziba is a public policy mediator, author of Civic Fusion: Mediating Polarized Public Disputes and faculty for the Harvard Negotiation Institute course, Advanced Mediation: Mediating Complex Disputes.