Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City. Photo by John Schreiber.
Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City. Photo by John Schreiber.

President Barack Obama said Friday the cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment by North Korea points to the need for Congress to enact rules regulating the operation of the Internet.

“Right now it’s sort of the Wild West,” Obama said at a White House news conference. “And part of the problem is you’ve got weak states that can engage in these kinds of attacks, you’ve got non-state actors that can do enormous damage. That’s part of what makes this issue of cybersecurity so urgent.

“That’s part of the reason why it’s going to be so important for Congress to work with us and get an actual bill passed that allows for the kind of information-sharing we need, because … if we don’t put in place the kind of architecture that can prevent these attacks from taking place, this is not just going to be affecting movies, this is going to be affecting our entire economy in ways that are extraordinarily significant.”

Obama said that while he sympathizes with the pressures that were brought to bear on Sony executives, he thinks the studio made a mistake by canceling the release of the film “The Interview” that precipitated the cyberattack. He said if he had the chance to weigh in on the decision, “I would have told them do not get into a pattern in which you’re intimidated by these criminal attacks.”

“So, we’ll engage with not just the film industry but the news industry and the private sector around these issues,” he said.”We already have, we will continue to do so. But I think all of us have to anticipate occasionally there are going to be breaches like this. They’re going to be costly, they’re going to be serious. We take them with the utmost seriousness, but we can’t start changing our patterns of behavior any more than we stop going to a football game because there might be the possibility of a terrorist attack, any more than Boston didn’t run its marathon this year because of the possibility that somebody might try to cause harm. So let’s not get into that way of doing business.”

The president, however, lashed out at the mentality of North Korean leaders who would engage in such activity in response to a movie.

“I think it says something interesting about North Korea that they decided to have the state mount an all-out assault on a movie studio over a satirical movie starting Seth Rogen and James Franco. I love Seth, and I love James, but the notion that that was a threat to them I think gives you a sense of the kind of regime we’re talking about here. They caused a lot of damage and we will respond. We will respond proportionally and we’ll respond in a place and time and manner that we choose.”

City News Service

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