Issues of online hacking, leaking, and security have loomed large over the last several months, so this comes as little surprise: President Obama will announce new cybersecurity and internet proposals next week, teasing the issue ahead of his State of the Union address on Jan. 20. It's yet another indication that Obama will announce an ambitious slate of proposals in his address — he already made headlines this week by calling for a free two years of community college for half and full-time students who maintain a 2.5 GPA or higher. Now, with possible bold proposals on the internet around the corner, the contours of what we'll hear him say on Ja. 20 are becoming a bit more clear.
Of course, a proposal made is not a plan fulfilled. Throughout his tenure as President, Obama has made a number of high-profile calls for action in his annual address, urging bipartisanship on infrastructure, immigration, and spending among other things, and much of it inevitably crashes on the rocks of GOP intransigence. But long odds aren't a license for complacency — you have to try, all the same.
And as it turns out, he may not be leaving all of this up to Congress. As detailed by The New York Times, Obama plans to announce executive actions, as well. It's yet unclear what he'll attempt via these orders versus what will be pitched to members of Congress, but the effort is plain to see.
On the private level, he'll reportedly be calling for improved privacy tools, and barriers to identity theft — having known people victimized by credit card fraud, this is welcome news. On the corporate and governmental levels, he'll be calling for increased security, aimed at preventing the sorts of large-scale attacks that Sony was struck with near the end of last year. The source of those Sony hacks is still a matter of contention between the U.S. government and outside tech analysts, some of whom believe the assessment that North Korea was to blame is erroneous. It's recently been reported that the NSA was instrumental in tracing the hacks back to North Korea, and its director, Admiral Mike Rogers, claimed to Fox Business that "This was North Korea, let there be no doubt in anyone's mind."
It's not stopping just at cybersecurity, either. According to the Des Moines Register, he'll be flying to Iowa on Wednesday to discuss expanding high-speed internet access into parts of America that sadly don't reliably have it. While it's easy to take for granted if you're living in any of the country's major cities, a lot of rural parts of the United States still have dismal connectivity. And with many countries and organizations around the world increasingly viewing online access as a human right, it seems as good a time as any to start remedying this situation.
The nitty-gritty analysis of Obama's plans will have to wait until he's actually speaking on this publicly, obviously, but this is potentially hugely important news to keep an eye on. With a new congressional majority and a presidential election next year, the GOP would clearly love for him to fulfill that age-old phrase, "lame-duck president." So far, at least, it seems like he has other ideas.
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