by Leigh Beadon

Filed Under:
cispa, cybersecurity, white house

White House Criticizes CISPA, Though Meekly And For Partially Wrong Reasons

from the still,-it's-something dept

With next week's vote on CISPA looming, the White House has made an official statement that implicitly criticizes the bill without mentioning it by name. The Hill reports that National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden issued the statement after a cybersecurity briefing in Congress:

"The nation’s critical infrastructure cyber vulnerabilities will not be addressed by information sharing alone," Hayden said.

"Also, while information sharing legislation is an essential component of comprehensive legislation to address critical infrastructure risks, information sharing provisions must include robust safeguards to preserve the privacy and civil liberties of our citizens. Legislation without new authorities to address our nation’s critical infrastructure vulnerabilities, or legislation that would sacrifice the privacy of our citizens in the name of security, will not meet our nation's urgent needs," she said, without explicitly mentioning CISPA.

While it's very good to hear them to make privacy concerns a central point, the administration's reasons for this position are not entirely the same as the citizens and civil liberties groups who oppose CISPA. The White House endorses the Lieberman-Collins bill in the Senate, which does indeed include better privacy protections (including an all-important requirement to anonymize shared data whenever possible), but also grants the federal government broad new regulatory powers relating to cybersecurity and critical infrastructure. This is in stark contrast to CISPA, which explicitly forbids regulatory usage. The White House wants to be able to start creating rules for "critical infrastructure" providers, which is undoubtedly the number one reason they support the Lieberman-Collins bill—but granting them that power is opening up a whole different can of worms. Nevertheless, though not an explicit or especially strong condemnation, this statement from the White House still adds significant weight to the growing CISPA opposition. The fact that the bill they are backing has its own problems really just points to the bigger and more important question: is there really any need to rush to create new cybersecurity legislation.

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  1. icon
    TtfnJohn (profile), 18 Apr 2012 @ 7:44am

    I'd think they'd have learned, though they never seem to, that after rushing to get TSA going and screwing up airports to no appreciable increase in security. Result? Security theatre. The appearance of doing something while not doing it.

    As bad as SISPA is, and it's awful, the Senate bill in many ways is as bad.

    Probable result? More security theatre.

    There will be no 100% elimination of cyberspying or intrusion into critical networks as long as human beings are around. People will still set "Password" as their password or their dog's name as their user name. People will always pack up in a hurry and leave their laptop in the hotel room. It's next to impossible to legislate against human stupidity, forgetfulness and the list of usual espionage tools such as bribery, sex and the other list that have been around since people started spying on each other.

    Security Theatre II, the latest reality show brought to you by the detergent that cleans whiter than white! 10pm Eastern and 7pm Pacific!

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