Privacy advocates, take heed: If President Obama enacts his executive order on cybersecurity, which could happen “within the next month,” it might be flavored with the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA).
"The administration is continuing to explore improvements both through the promotion of cybersecurity best practices and increased cybersecurity information sharing,” the White House’s Caitlin Hayden told the Hill blog.
“Information sharing” is the core concept behind CISPA, and it’s the phrase that gives privacy advocates the most concern. The concept was popularized by the Patriot Act, and is meant to make it easy for American networks that come under attack to hand the control of their systems to federal agencies without having to go through a formalized process, since attacks tend to require quick responses. The downside? If those agencies come across evidence of unrelated criminal activity, that can be used to prosecute citizens.
CISPA passed the House of Representatives in April. Though the White House has promised to veto the bill if it passes the Senate, that promise was made back when Obama had hope that Congress could pass his preferred cybersecurity bill, and before Obama’s head cybersecurity advisor, who had a longstanding history of opposing CISPA, retired.
That preferred bill, Joseph Lieberman’s Cybersecurity Act of 2012, which tries to get networks to adopt stronger security on their own, was defeated in the Senate in August, and it’s the basis of Obama’s proposed executive order.
Obama’s been under near-constant criticism from CISPA’s author, Representative Mike Rogers (R-Mich), for not yet going to him or other members of the House, which passed CISPA with 248 votes, for advice.
In a speech last week at a cybersecurity conference hosted by the Chamber of Commerce—the lobbying group perhaps responsible for the Cybersecurity Act of 2012’s defeat—Rogers called Obama “irresponsible” for not consulting him or the Department of Homeland security for the executive order.
"I don't get it. I don't understand it,” Rogers added.
Hayden said the White House has plans to reach out to members of the House about the executive order in the "near future."
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