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Cyber Security -- The Topic Avoided by the Presidential Candidates

By Peter Clarke, JD on March 01, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the Internet.

It already seems like the Presidential campaign has been going on forever.  There have been countless debates, speeches and statements by and among the candidates. Some topics such as immigration and whether to build a wall have been rehashed over and over - beating dead horses further to death. But what is the one topic the candidates consistently ignore?

Cyber security!

Sure, the candidates talk tough, and each seems to suggest that he or she will be the mightiest of the mighty when it comes to dealing with the likes of Russia, North Korea and ISIS. But hardly ever, and almost never, do they talk about cyber security.

The Internet is wonderful in many respects. We have all sorts of information at our fingertips instantaneously. We can communicate with people all over the world in many online ways. Shopping never has been easier -- as we can buy practically anything with just a simple click.

But just as the commercial world has gone online, so has conflict, crime and war (yes, war!).

A number of countries are beefing up their cyber warfare capabilities, not only for defensive purposes, but for potential offensive attacks. Such attacks could bring down all sorts of critical systems -- like banking, air traffic control, electrical and nuclear power, and the list goes on and on. The attacks also could disrupt our military capabilities.

Some experts believe that the United States needs to do more in this new era of potential cyber warfare. They suggest that the US should hire thousands of more Internet security experts. And President Obama has just suggested billions of more budgetary dollars for cyber security purposes.

Getting back to the Presidential candidates -- why aren't they talking about cyber security when they otherwise are talking tough about fighting the enemies of the United States?

The frightening answer is that they likely do not understand the issues relating to cyber warfare well enough to express opinions and to outline strategies and plans. Whoever becomes President will need to get up to speed very quickly. Better yet, the candidates right away should learn the issues so that they can be discussed as part of the campaign and in order for the next President to be able to lead immediately upon taking office.

Eric Sinrod (@EricSinrod on Twitter) is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris LLP, where he focuses on litigation matters of various types, including information technology and intellectual property disputes. You can read his professional biography here. To receive a weekly email link to Mr. Sinrod's columns, please email him at with Subscribe in the Subject line. This column is prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author's law firm or its individual partners.

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