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Obama Signs Cybersecurity Executive Order

Feb 14, 2013

President Obama invoked the pageantry of his State of the Union address this evening to announce a long-anticipated executive order on cybersecurity, a move that caps months of discussions with technology companies and could reduce pressure on Congress to move forward with controversial new legislation.


The order will “strengthen our cyber defenses by increasing information sharing, and developing standards to protect our national security, our jobs, and our privacy,” Obama said.


Obama’s executive order doesn’t propose new and potentially onerous regulations targeting private businesses, which Democrats had proposed in their unsuccessful legislation last year. It also doesn’t appear to rewrite privacy laws by allowing companies to share confidential information with intelligence agencies without oversight, which Republicans had suggested in their own bill, also unsuccessful, called the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA. CISPA would “waive every single privacy law ever enacted in the name of cybersecurity,” Rep. Jared Polis, a Colorado Democrat and onetime Web entrepreneur, said during a debate last April. “Allowing the military and NSA to spy on Americans on American soil goes against every principle this country was founded on.


Because it’s an executive order rather than a new law, it’s restricted to directing the activities of federal agencies and is much less likely to be controversial. Some of the components include: expanding “real time sharing of cyber threat information” to companies that operate critical infrastructure, asking NIST to devise cybersecurity standards, and proposing a “review of existing cybersecurity regulation.”


Some Internet companies had been concerned about being swept in by overly broad definitions of “critical infrastructure.” But their lobbyists did their jobs: the executive order says Homeland Security “shall not identify any commercial information technology products or consumer information technology services” as especially critical infrastructure (translated: Facebook and Pinterest are not really that important). DHS will “confidentially notify owners and operators of critical infrastructure” that are considered sufficiently important.


More more details, read this story here: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-57569092-38/obama-signs-long-awaited-cybersecurity-executive-order/?tag=nl.e703&s_cid=e703&ttag=e703

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