The War Metaphor, or Only Some Really Get It

One of the reason I decided to go to graduate school was to better understand arguments, language, and their relationship to policy. Jerry Brito gets it, where few do:

The problem with the war metaphor is that treating a cyber attack as an act of war, rather than a crime, invites a different governmental response. In the offline world, vandalism, theft, and even international espionage are treated as crimes. When you detect them, you call law enforcement, who investigate and prosecute and, most importantly, do so while respecting your civil liberties. In war, these niceties can go out the window.

War changes the options available to government, says noted security expert Bruce Schneier. Things you would never agree to in peacetime you agree to in wartime. Referring to the warrantless wiretapping of Americans that AT&T allowed the NSA to conduct after 9/11, Schneier has said, “In peacetime if the government goes to AT&T and says, ‘Hey, we want to eavesdrop on everybody,’ AT&T says, ‘Stop, where’s your warrant?’ In wartime, AT&T says, ‘Use that closet over there, lock the door, and just put a do not disturb sign on it.’”

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