Cybersecurity Executive Order Actually Respects Some Privacy; So Do We Actually Need CISPA Any More?

from the an-improvement dept

Exactly as predicted yesterday, President Obama talked about cybersecurity in last night’s State of the Union address, including his plan to sign an executive order on cybersecurity. What’s a bit surprising is that the executive order… is actually pretty reasonable. Unlike some earlier drafts, it appears that the White House actually took the privacy concerns fairly seriously. Most of the executive order focuses on the government sharing “threat info” with companies rather than with companies sharing info with the government. There is some support for companies sharing information back, but with some clear privacy standards. As always, how this works in practice will be more important than what’s written down now.

That said, this raises a pretty big question: if this is in place, why do we need CISPA (or any other cybersecurity regulations). Well, to be clear, this doesn’t raise that question — that question has been out there all along. Our biggest concern with all of this talk about “cybersecurity” is that no one ever seems to explain why it’s actually needed, other than vague threats of evil bogeymen hacking away at our computer systems. But they’ve never shown what current laws are a problem and what important information sharing is currently blocked because of existing laws. Furthermore, they haven’t explained what the real risk we’re facing is. The Hollywood inspired stories of evil hackers taking down airplanes make for nice visuals, but have little basis in truth. So now we have a document that lets the government helps companies if there is a real attack. Why do we need anything more?

CISPA, in particular, doesn’t seem to add anything of value to what’s already in the exec order, other than trying to free up companies from any possible liability when they hand over your info to government agencies based on vague standards concerning “threats” (and then those government agencies can then use that info for pretty much anything). So rather than focusing on legislation, why not watch how well things play out with this executive order in place?

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Comments on “Cybersecurity Executive Order Actually Respects Some Privacy; So Do We Actually Need CISPA Any More?”

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14 Comments
jupiterkansas (profile) says:

Our biggest concern with all of this talk about ‘cybersecurity’ is that no one ever seems to explain why it’s actually needed.

Because the government has trouble justifying itself without a serious threat to the country. There hasn’t been a serious threat to the country since the Soviet Union collapsed, so now we have fear propaganda and imaginary villains.

NoahVail (profile) says:

Respects our Privacy? Have you read Sec 5?

I’m missing the whole “Respect Privacy” thing. Maybe one of you legal scholars can set me straight.

Here’s my take on it.
http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/02/12/executive-order-improving-critical-infrastructure-cybersecurity

Sect 5(a) Federal Agencies self-police that they’re in compliance w/ Fair Info Practice Principles.

Sect 5(b) DHS agencies shall assess civil liberty risks and make a report available to DHS Secretary (but not us).
DHS agencies shall self-assess and add their results to Secretary’s report (that we can’t see because it’ll contain classified ‘annex’).

Sect 5(c) DHS agencies shall have a chat about the report with Civil Liberties Oversight Board and Office of Management and Budget.

Sect 5(d)Info that is submitted in accordance with 6 U.S.C. ?133 shall be protected from disclosure except where any one of a countless number of laws can potentially be applied to nullify those protections.

And then there’s 6 U.S.C. ?133
http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/6/133

6 U.S.C. ?133(a)(1)(A)Prevents the Gov from responding to FoIA Act requests about our data.

6 U.S.C. ?133(a)(1)(D)Allows a number of things to be done with our data as long as whoever harvested the data signs an agreement (which is certain to be submitted to them).

6 U.S.C. ?133(a)(1)(E)Clams down on non-Fed Governments, thus reducing chance of accidental oversight.

6 U.S.C. ?133(a)(1)(F)Insures that Gov-granted corporate privileges remain unaffected.

Et cetera.

Anonymous Coward says:

To my understanding, there should still be some sort of legislation. The executive order is a way to get around the mess that is Cispa, but really, is that the type of country that we want to be in? One where the only branch with the power to make changes now is the executive branch?

I personally don’t think so. This SHOULD have been dealt with through the legislature. There’s some failing in the system that this was required. It purely luck that it happened to be beneficial to the people.

Blame the industries, or the Tea Party (most people I know note that the Tea Party has pretty much made the legislative branch useless, at least until the Republicans win an election) but the answer is not in executive orders its in legislation.

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