By Ankoor Talwar
America was founded in 1776 on the tenets of free will and the pursuit of happiness. The U.S. government was created to protect these fundamental rights while balancing the safety of the American people.
In November, a rogue cyberterrorist group known as the Guardians of Peace breached Sony Pictures Entertainment and leaked sensitive, confidential information.
While the media focused mainly on emails and interactions between Sony’s higher-ups, the hack mostly procured personal employee information and records.
The group’s goal was to prevent the release of the upcoming James Franco and Seth Rogen blockbuster, “The Interview” — a movie everyone is undoubtedly familiar with.
But no matter, right? There was no way a tiny, unknown group of hackers could bring a multinational corporation to its knees.
The whole issue would certainly, it seemed, be extinguished within a week or two.
Well, the unthinkable happened. Sony succumbed. They canceled the theatrical release of “The Interview” completely.
While we were all certainly upset that we wouldn’t be able to see comedic duo Franco and Rogen, the ramifications of Sony’s reaction were indeed much more harrowing.
This was the first time a rogue cyberterrorist group strong-armed a multinational corporation on American soil. This was portrayed fully in the public eye.
It was soon found out the hack was sponsored by the Kim Jong-un regime of North Korea — a government that is the antithesis of everything America stands for.
This shouldn’t have been too surprising since it was only apparent that the purpose was to prevent the rest of the world from seeing Kim Jong-un’s head blow up to Katy Perry’s smash-hit “Firework.”
Nevertheless, the fact that a country whose GDP, technology and actual political authority pale in comparison to the U.S.’s could carry out such an operation makes us question our safety.
If you’re feeling uneasy right now, I cannot blame you.
Plain and simple, the North Korean-sponsored Sony cyberhack was an attack on American sovereignty, an infringement on our God-given rights and a reminder that the world we live in is laden with groups that fight the intellectual and artistic freedoms the United States grants its citizens.
And it doesn’t take a clairvoyant to assume this will continue for long into the future.
That is what made the recent sanctions imposed on the autocracy that is North Korea more than justified.
With an executive order, President Obama imposed economic sanctions on three arms and intelligence groups in North Korea, and 10 high-ranking North Korean officials outside the country — nothing that negatively affects the innocent, oppressed population of North Korea.
To what will these sanctions actually amount? To be honest, probably nothing — they are largely symbolic.
Even so, the North Korean response was an outcry. The regime lambasted the United States for being too aggressive and unnecessarily causing more strife between the two countries.
They further claimed that they weren’t responsible for the cyber-attack in the first place. There is a small faction that believes that, however unlikely, that might be true.
Even if that may be the case, the U.S. government must do whatever it can to quell rising concerns among Americans about their safety in the digital age.
That is what Obama did. Again, it is highly improbable that North Korea didn’t have anything to do with the hack —after all the Guardians of Peace’s only demand was a moratorium on showing “The Interview.”
The FBI even did a reexamination of the case and again determined that Kim Jong-un’s regime was behind the hack.
There is no way for an American — no, any advocate for democracy — to look down upon Obama’s executive order.
An argument can be made that Obama didn’t do enough. However, we must remember this executive order was just a warning that the government is serious about this, and future attempts at, cyberterrorism.
Throughout the past 30 years, there have been arguments against the United States’ philosophy of infringing on other countries’ autonomy simply for domestic gain.
Some of these claims are indubitably valid. However, against unlawful and tyrannical administrations, such as North Korea’s, the United States has no choice but to flex its muscles as the world’s preeminent democracy, to preserve peace.
While Obama’s new, selective sanctions on North Korea are nowhere near what the U.S. has the capability to do, they successfully warn Kim Jong-un, and the rest of the world that the United States is not to be messed with when it comes to protecting domestic freedom.