Wednesday, October 27, 2010

First-mover advantage in cyber privateering: Australia?

The first country to issue Letters of Marque and Reprisal to cyber privateers tasked with "looting the looters" could become the most dynamic computing power on the planet. At the onset of this blog, I just assumed it would have to be the United States. But maybe some "lateral thinking" is in order. Better late than never you say? Okay, my personal experience gives me a metaphor from which to draw a conclusion.

I once sat on the board of directors of a public company that really had a new paradigm for applications development. Not only could they cut development time by 90%, but the applications were absolutely bug free (just like a spreadsheet is bug free, in that it does what you tell it to do perfectly, every time, without crashing the system or giving you the infamous "blue screen of death"; no assembly language or C coding; anybody can immediately see if their applications works, just like they do with an Excel spreadsheet.). The company figured body shops like Anderson Consulting or the Oracle Applications Division would jump on the productivity edge. But we miscalculated. Software consulting companies want billable hours, period. Give them a way to cut billable hours by 90%, they'll ask why and then throw you out. All we needed was a first mover to start the dominos, and we never got that first mover.

In the U.S., I suspect special interest groups have set up a system with too much inertia to overcome. Banking institutions had enough muscle to get significant bail-out money, and they're the same institutions that will convince the Treasury Department that we do not want cyber privateers looting the accounts of either criminals or rogue governments (see my Monday posting). The energy lobby doesn't want to risk someone setting off data bombs throughout the power grid in retaliation for some real or imagined cyber slight, and they'll make a pretty valid point the with State Department. Right now, according to Richard Clarke who I quoted in my last two blogs, both Treasury and State must explicitly approve going after the bad guys' bank accounts. 

So what's the answer? Australia! Historically and geographically, they may be the only country on the planet with the ideal personality and infrastructure to host (and profit from) authorized cyber privateering. So how about it Ms Prime Minister Gillard? How'd you like to save a world on the brink of cyber war? How'd you like to toss a bunch of Chinese "citizen hackers" on the barbie? Or empty the bank accounts of the so-called Russian mafia? Or put a stop payment on jihadist paychecks? Crackie!

If you are the first government to make this first move—and gain what I call the 'first-mover advantage'—the rest of the world will circle the wagons and publicly condemn you (while privately rooting for your success). Sure, you may want to keep a close eye on any boats coming your way from that intellectual dwarf in North Korea, but chances that one of his nuclear missiles could actually hit a meaningful target in your vast country are about the same as that of Paris Hilton joining a convent and spending the rest of her celebate life helping Bulgarian orphans.

I'm thinking out loud here, so help me with the stumbling blocks. Since you're a Constitutional Monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as your head of State, is Australia  bound by the Paris Declaration of 1856? Are you prepared to waive extradition of bonded, authorized cyber privateers to countries out for their heads? And how badly do you want credit as the country that saved the world from being hacked back into the stone ages? Not to mention, Ms Prime Minister, how'd you like to split about $200 billion or so 50/50 in the first year with some very smart people? Set up the right infrastructure of privacy and protection, and your employees could work from their Silicon Valley basements.

If not Australia, then who? If not now, then when?

1 comment:

  1. You know what is interesting about Australia is that they could technically issue bills of attainder as well. Check out this entry from wikipedia.

    Australian usage of bill of attainder (wikipedia)

    Although the Commonwealth Constitution establishes the principle of separation of powers for the Commonwealth, it is not extended to states. Therefore, states remain free to structure their constitutions to permit bills of attainder.

    In various states, acts have been passed during the 1990s to allow the continued detention of dangerous criminals after their term which applied to specific individuals such as Gregory Wayne Kable in NSW or Garry David in Victoria. These acts are similar to bills of attainder, but do not declare a person guilty of a crime; they merely permit extended detention. More recently, Australian parliaments have preferred the practice of applying preventative and indefinition detention to any criminal who meets specific conditions, rather than to named criminals[1].


Implementation suggestions for THE MORGAN DOCTRINE are most welcome. What are the "Got'chas!"? What questions would some future Cyber Privateering Czar have to answer about this in a Senate confirmation hearing?