Howard Schmidt
Howard Schmidt
The first-ever White House cyber security coordinator is retiring.

Howard Schmidt, who was appointed to the newly created role in December 2009, announced his decision Thursday. He will be succeeded by Michael Daniel, who has served for the past decade as chief of the intelligence branch within the White House's Office of Management and Budget's National Security Division.

Schmidt, 62, did not give a reason, only saying he would be returning to private life. He did not respond to a request for comment.

"It has been a tremendous honor for me to have served in this role and to have worked with such dedicated and professional colleagues both in the government and private sector," Schmidt said in a statement. "We have made real progress in our efforts to better deal with the risks in cyber space so, around the world, we can all realize the full benefits that cyber space brings us."
Schmidt, who previously held chief security roles at eBay and Microsoft and who started his career as a police officer, presided over a number of national cyber security accomplishments.

In June 2010, he unveiled the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC), a program that would enable individuals to voluntarily obtain a secure credential, such as a smart identity card, from public and private sector providers to authenticate themselves online when banking, accessing electronic health records, sending email and making other online transactions.

He also was heavily involved in President Obama's cyber security legislative proposal, issued nearly a year ago, which, among other things, called on Congress to pass a data breach notification law.

Still, no significant cyber security legislation has been passed on Capitol Hill. In fact, Schmidt leaves at a time when a number of controversial bills are circulating through Congress, including the Cyber Intelligence and Sharing Act (CISPA) and the Strengthening and Enhancing Cybersecurity by Using Research, Education, Information, and Technology, or SECURE ITAct. (Obama has threatened to veto CISPA).

While supporters say the bills would pave the way for the much-needed sharing of threat intelligence data among public and private organizations, critics cite major privacy concerns.

Schmidt, in an interview with SC Magazine, in 2010 said he is a personal believer in transparency.

“Transparency provides the American people with the ability to partner with government and to participate 
meaningfully in the discussion about how we can use the extraordinary resources and expertise of the 
intelligence community with proper oversight for the protection of privacy and civil liberties,” says Schmidt.


Photo for SC Magazine by Aaron Clamage