LSC557 Information Policy

Raymond Maxwell

June 26, 2103

The Critical Infrastructure Protection Board (CIPB) established during the Bush II administration is an inter-agency entity charged with creating and implementing a national strategy to protect and “contain” the critical information infrastructure across a number of foreign affairs related agencies (Rubin, 2010). On the surface, that sounds rather benign, and even rather technical, because it sounds like it pertains to machines that carry the information, not the information itself.

However, at the agency level, the existence of the CIPB is a bit troublesome.  In terms of information policy, the ALA and other agencies have a very well-founded fear regarding the potential and/or effects of the CIPB to withdraw or restrict government information that may have been otherwise available to the public (Rubin, 2010, p. 325).  Especially, or perhaps even more significantly, the CIPB creates the potential for an information “detour,” i.e., the withdrawal or restriction of information that should be available to Congressional committees who are charged with oversight of the operations of those organizations, such as Homeland Security, State, FBI, IRS, etc.

In the wrong hands, the CIPB allows for the creation of a “cloak of secrecy” within an agency that provides for limited collection and destruction of information that might prove detrimental to that agency’s political leadership, a climate of secrecy that cannot be penetrated by Congressional committees who represent the American people, in a broad sense.  The ALA 2003 report mentioned in Rubin is precisely on point in this regard.

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9 months ago
Raymond Maxwell
RE: Maxwell, Policy RE: Maxwell, Policy

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People have been very concerned over the Freedom of Information Act. The CIPB restricts public access to the information within its walls. Like Raymond, some Americans would say that it would violate the American right to information. Some, maybe the more fearful like me, might say “If keeping some information secret will protect us from invasion, then by all means, go ahead!” I understand both sides and why Raymond is skeptic. He makes a very good point that some information that certain agencies may be holding to themselves may also benefit political decision making by Congress or other departments. This is a very valid point. One hand, being tight locked on information helps maintain national security within CIPB, but then by not giving the information to others that help make decisions on national security is contradictory.

Applied to information professionals, we need to come up with a balance and decided what information would stay in which department, and what other information can get released. There would need to be more discussion and analysis I think to find that balance.