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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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Feb 2013 @ 9:55am

    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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