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FCW Insider: Cybersecurity meets government affairs

Some times, technology vendors just can't seem to help themselves. Given a chance to offer their expertise to government, they use the opportunity to hand out marketing brochures. Not literally, of course, but it amounts to the same thing.


This issue came up today while I was working on the editorial for next week's magazine. I argue that the Bush administration's cybersecurity initiative would be stronger if it were vetted by a larger community of security experts (while acknowledging that some components might warrant secrecy).


But there's a catch, as one expert pointed out. Such an argument assumes that an IT company would provide the administration with access to their best engineers. But it doesn't always work that way. In similar situations in the past, some companies opted to send some one from their government affairs office. As might be guessed, such meetings rarely end with anyone happy.


It's easy to see why this happens. Offered face time with some federal VIPs, it makes sense they want to put forward their most polished spokesperson.


But I also understand why those VIPs get frustrated. When I was a cub reporter at FCW and writing about a new technology, I often found myself on the phone with a company marketing executive who was more interested in talking about the company's position in the emerging market. It was a wasted opportunity for them to showcase their expertise and for me to gain real insight.


You rarely come across the real experts outside their own offices. But when you do, it's like learning from a master (for some reason, the movie Karate Kid comes to mind).


That is what I had in mind when I wrote the editorial. Look for it on Monday.

Posted by John Stein Monroe on Sep 24, 2008 at 12:17 PM


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