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Thursday, 15 January 2015 06:57

Sony hack prompts US cyber security bills Featured


The US Congress is reconsidering two failed cyber security bills in the wake of the hack on Sony Entertainment and the Military’s social media accounts.

The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which was passed by the House of Representatives but rejected by the Senate before November’s mid-term elections, is back on the table.

As is often the case in the US, the bill has supporters and opponents from both major parties. The bill has been re-introduced by Democrat Representative Charles ‘Dutch’ Ruppersberger, the man mostly responsible for the US Government’s continued ban on Chinese supplier Huawei.

Under the bill the US Attorney General, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of Homeland Security,  Director of National Intelligence, a would create a ‘cyber threat information sharing program’, essentially creating a new cyber defence agency with sweeping powers,

It also charges those some departments with ensuring the execution of the program would not infringe on civil liberties, but with exceptions that would make such oversight meaningless.

Cyber threat information shared with the government, for example, would be exempt from the US Freedom of Information Act. The bill would also give immunity from prosecution to anyone sharing cyber threat information with the government.

Opponents of the bill, an unlikely coalition of left wing civil libertarians and right wing libertarians (we are seeing the same thing in Australia regarding our proposed data retention laws) have been able to thwart it in the past, but things may be different this time.

The environment in the US has changed, as it has in much of the world, following increased fears about terrorism. In the US the hack attacks on Sony, which many believe come from North Korea in response to the satiric movie ‘The Interview” have contributed to a heightened sense of cyber vulnerability. This week’s attacked on the US Military’s CENTCOM YouTube and Twitter accounts have also not helped.

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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson sadly passed away in Jan 2021 and a much valued senior associate editor at iTWire. He was one of Australia’s longest serving and most experienced IT journalists. He is the author of the only definitive history of the Australian IT industry, ‘A Vision Splendid: The History of Australian Computing.’He was in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time weekly IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism. Graeme will be sadly missed by the iTWire Family, Readers, Customers and PR firms.

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