Obama promises response on Sony hack, says pulling movie was mistake

His strong words came hours after the FBI said North Korea was responsible for the attack on Sony

President Obama believes Sony made a mistake in canceling release of "The Interview" following a major cyberattack and said the U.S. is prepared to respond to the attack, but he wouldn't say when or how.

"We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States," he said.

Obama's strong words, at a scheduled year-end news conference at the White House, came just two hours after the FBI said it had determined North Korea was responsible for the attack on Sony that included widespread leaks of sensitive company documents and employee information.

"I think they made a mistake," he said, referring to Sony's decision earlier this week to cancel the movie's release in theaters, on DVD and Internet sites. "The Interview" is a satirical movie about entertainment reporters sent to North Korea on a secret mission to kill its leader.

Sony's decision could set a precedent for future responses when an unpopular documentary of news report is being prepared, for instance, he said. Obama also said it could raise the Orwellian prospect of self-censorship.

"That's not who we are, that's not what America is about."

As for a possible U.S. response to the attack, Obama said his government is prepared to act.

"They caused a lot of damage and we will respond," he said. "We will respond proportionally, and we will respond in a place and time and manner we choose."

With that response, he left his options open for everything from a counterattack on North Korea's cyberinfrastructure -- what little there is -- or through other avenues such as trade sanctions. But North Korea is already under severe sanctions and has shown resilience despite them.

Looking ahead to 2015, it appears the Sony attack will put cybersecurity on the national and international agenda.

Obama said he's going to look to Congress to work on "strong" cybersecurity laws that allow for closer public- and private-sector information sharing.

"We've been coordinating with the private sector, but a lot more needs to be done," he said.

The U.S. will also turn to the international community to come up with "rules of the road" for cyberspace.

"Right now it's sort of a wild west," he said. "If we don't put in place the kind of architecture that can prevent this type of attack 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."

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags cybercrimelegalwhite houseCriminal

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?