In the 1870’s the US government enacted a tariff on imported steel from Europe. The purpose of this tariff was to give an edge to domestic steel producers. This effectively locked out foreign producers of steel from competing on price in the United States, thus paving the way for men like Carnegie, Frick, Morgan, and others to set the stage for the next 30-40 years of domestic steel domination (Carnegie entered the steel business in 1872 and J. P. Morgan purchased Carnegie Steel and renamed it US Steel in 1901). The idea of a tariff like this today is unheard of. The mere mention of this will give the cable news talking head something to argue about and ultimately oppose. Yet, some other countries impose similar tariffs on us everyday. This gives imported products an unfair advantage over the U.S. exporting goods.
I read in an article printed in the Wall Street Journal yesterday that the U.S. is going to now get tough on cyber attacks from other countries. I am not so sure this is a viable defense that will actually protect our citizens and businesses. In all truth we have no real way of policing the citizens and governments of other nations’ online activity directly anymore than they can stop U.S. citizens from launching a cyber attack against them.
But what if we looked at taxing the imports from nations that allow this activity to continue? This would put the onus on those countries to take action to stop this activity. Their citizens and businesses would demand that the attacks stop so they can continue normal business operations.
In the U.S., if I launch a cyber attack against another domestic site (person or business), it is a fairly straightforward process to shut that activity down. Authorities can go to a judge and get my Internet connection shut down. We cannot do this outside of our borders. We are left to rely on them to take action, which is not always a fast process.
Most countries do assist in these takedowns. I am not trying to make blanket statements about all countries. And the ones who assist us in these takedowns would never be subject to the tariff. However, I am sick of hearing news that attacks are coming from some places overseas and not only do Americans have to sustain the attacks, but our government also sends them aid. This is absurd; it is like sending a check to the bully who goes after my kid.
I am not one to advocate for more regulation and I certainly don’t think a UN resolution will solve anything, that is proven with every resolution they pass. So I believe it is time for the U.S. to take the matter into its own hands. We can control what goods and services come into this country and, if we tie a penalty for cyber attacks to domestic imports, I believe over time we will have fewer attacks and further protect U.S. citizens. And that is the sole job of the government.