This Policy Essay discusses the emerging security threat of cyberterrorism and the historical impulse to restrict civil rights and civil liberties during times of national crisis. Cyberterrorism poses a significant danger that requires a strong and unequivocal response, but such a response need not sacrifice important constitutional safeguards. Frequently in our past, from the time of the two World Wars to the recent attacks on the World Trade Center, our leaders enacted policies that gave an illusion of enhancing security but in reality failed to provide additional safeguards and in the process abused constitutional rights. We argue that this historical pattern need not continue with regard to cyberterrorism. With proper planning and a sense of urgency, cyberterrorism can be addressed proactively before serious harm is done. This will not only reduce the possibility that the same terrorists who turned commercial airplanes into lethal bombs will turn our vast computer networks against us, but it will also reduce the risk of unnecessary infringements of our civil liberties.

Included in

Law Commons