New White House cyber czar brings intell chops

As soon as Howard Schmidt went public with his plan to step down as White House cybersecurity coordinator, attention began to focus on his successor — Michael Daniel, director of the Office of Management and Budget's Intelligence Branch in the National Security Division.

As President Barack Obama’s top cybersecurity adviser, Schmidt played a key role in creating the first cybersecurity policy proposal — the International Strategy for Cyberspace — which calls for global cooperation in fighting Web-based threats and details how the United States will respond to hostile acts in cyberspace. He was also instrumental in crafting the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, a blueprint to enhance online privacy protections through the use of trusted digital identities or a so-called identity ecosystem.

His successor will take up the effort of advancing those policies and determining how they will be implemented. “Daniel’s new job puts him squarely in the middle of a contentious debate between the White House and congressional Republicans over legislation that would permit the government and the private sector to exchange information about threats in cyberspace,” according to an Associated Press article.

Furthermore, Daniel’s experience in the intelligence field is already raising concerns in some circles. Kyle Wagner, writing at Gizmodo.com, highlighted Daniel's intelligence background, especially in light of measures such as the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act.

“What does [Daniel’s background] mean for the future of the cybersecurity issue?” Wagner wrote. “Probably that we can expect his knowledge of the intelligence community to play a part in not just tracking down hackers but determining the lines that need to be crossed with future SOPA-like bills. So while this sounds like a relatively nondescript appointment, Daniel will almost definitely be a major player the next time someone comes for your Internet.”

About the Author

Technology journalist Michael Hardy is a former FCW editor.

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