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THE PRESIDENT: Everybody, please be seated. We meet today at a transformational moment — a moment in history when our interconnected world presents us, at once, with great promise but also great peril.
Now, over the past four months my administration has taken decisive steps to seize the promise and confront these perils. We’re working to recover from a global recession while laying a new foundation for lasting prosperity. We’re strengthening our armed forces as they fight two wars, at the same time we’re renewing American leadership to confront unconventional challenges, from nuclear proliferation to terrorism, from climate change to pandemic disease. And we’re bringing to government — and to this White House — unprecedented transparency and accountability and new ways for Americans to participate in their democracy.
But none of this progress would be possible, and none of these 21st century challenges can be fully met, without America’s digital infrastructure — the backbone that underpins a prosperous economy and a strong military and an open and efficient government. Without that foundation we can’t get the job done.
It’s long been said that the revolutions in communications and information technology have given birth to a virtual world. But make no mistake: This world — cyberspace — is a world that we depend on every single day. It’s our hardware and our software, our desktops and laptops and cell phones and Blackberries that have become woven into every aspect of our lives.
It’s the broadband networks beneath us and the wireless signals around us, the local networks in our schools and hospitals and businesses, and the massive grids that power our nation. It’s the classified military and intelligence networks that keep us safe, and the World Wide Web that has made us more interconnected than at any time in human history.
So cyberspace is real. And so are the risks that come with it.
It’s the great irony of our Information Age — the very technologies that empower us to create and to build also empower those who would disrupt and destroy. And this paradox — seen and unseen — is something that we experience every day.
It’s about the privacy and the economic security of American families. We rely on the Internet to pay our bills, to bank, to shop, to file our taxes. But we’ve had to learn a whole new vocabulary just to stay ahead of the cyber criminals who would do us harm — spyware and malware and spoofing and phishing and botnets. Millions of Americans have been victimized, their privacy violated, their identities stolen, their lives upended, and their wallets emptied. According to one survey, in the past two years alone cyber crime has cost Americans more than $8 billion.