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Daily Debrief: Cyber privacy in an Obama USACyber privacy advocates have welcomed the prospect of an Obama presidency. But they may want to wait before popping the champagne corks. On the CNET News Daily Debrief, Charles Cooper goes over the record with Declan McCullagh.
[ Music ] ^M00:00:04 >> Charlie: Cyber privacy advocates have welcomed the accession of an Obama administration but they may have to wait a little bit before popping the Champaign corks. Welcome to the CNET News Daily Debrief, I'm Charlie Cooper. On the line now from New York City CNET News' Declan McCullagh. Declan, before we get into the incoming administration, for purposes of comparison take a look at the privacy record, as far as cyber issues go, with the current Bush administration, how much of their approach has been shaped by September 11th? >> Declan: Almost all of it, I remember covering the Bush administration pre 9/11 and there wasn't much time for a real policy to be developed but it was essentially continuing what the Clinton administration had done and then things changed radically. Bills that were proposed early on never became law but glued together became the Patriot Act, we saw the warrantless wiretapping program. In other words, the events of September 11th pretty much defined the Bush administration's approach to cyber security. We never had the Department of Homeland Security until after those terrorist attacks. >> Charlie: Alright, let's talk a little bit about Eric Holder [assumed spelling], who is Obama's choice for the next Attorney General, he had been or has been a critic of the government's wiretapping program but you've gone over the record and it's a little bit nuanced, what did you turn up? >> Declan: It is more nuanced or mixed, if you will, it's easy enough to criticize a republican administration's warrantless wiretapping if you're a democrat. And so, you can't really tell from that exactly what his views are so we went back and looked and -- >> Charlie: And he was a senior person in the Justice Department in the Clinton -- >> Declan: Correct, Deputy Attorney General. And so, we went back and reviewed dozens and dozens of speeches and statements that he made and we found out that he seemed to be in favor of things like domestic restrictions on encryption, which is something that other Clinton officials supported back in the day. He indicated that he wanted more restrictions on free speech and thought that the Supreme Court could be persuaded to keep those constitutional. He also called for new powers for federal prosecutors, some of which became laws part of the Patriot Act in 2001. >> Charlie: So it's hard to predict but let's do the short list of what his record might be and assuming he gets approved by the Senate free speech and censorship on the Internet? >> Declan: Well, in terms of free speech and censorship it's -- he wanted an obscenity crack-down, that is he wanted prosecutors, federal prosecutors to put more pornographers, Internet pornographers in prison; this is something that Ashcroft also wanted. That would probably be consistent I don't see a radical change from republican to a democratic administration there. >> Charlie: Encryption? >> Declan: Encryption is pretty much off the table now it would take something really radical for it to be brought back live as a policy debate; this is something that the Clinton folks were pushing, never became law on part because of the opposition of republicans in Congress. I don't think we have to worry about this but if there is another terrorist attack, a serious one, and if we find out it could have been prevented had the government had the ability to say break encryption then it is back on the table, definitely. >> Charlie: Intellectual piracy? >> Declan: Well, IP, copyright, all that kind of good stuff that we know and love from many years of dealing with the RAA and writing out what they're doing, it's -- the big question for an Obama administration is, who will be the IP czar, we don't know that yet. Eric Holder when he was part of The Department of Justice was a bit of an IP hock he showed up at events with Adobe saying we need to crack down on piracy, I don't see any huge change there either. That would probably be pretty consistent we have the Business Offer Alliance and the Industry of Growth in Commerce both copyright hocks themselves saying we love Eric Holder. >> Charlie: And the 800 pound gorilla, of course, The Patriot Act. >> Declan: Now this is where it gets interesting you have a lot of democrats for good reasons criticizing the Patriot Act litigation and its very existence over the last 7 or 8 years. And Holder's position is interesting because he supported it and he said in 2004 to CNN that he thought this was a perfectly good law, and so his criticisms are more with the implementation not the law itself. >> Charlie: Good stuff, thanks Declan. On behalf of CNET News, I'm Charlie Cooper. ^E00:05:03