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SOTU Watch: Obama Cybersecurity Boost

SOTU Watch: Obama Cybersecurity Boost

 

With great expectation that Cyber Policy will be a significant focus of the upcoming State of the Union address (SOTU) – more than any other of this administration’s past SOTUs – we feature our SOTU Watch series leading up to, during, and after January 20th’s main event.

 

Earlier this week, President Barack Obama vowed to introduce three new pieces of legislation aimed at providing online protections for consumers and students. Obama labeled the new legislation the “consumer privacy bill of rights” and promised that his proposals aim to protect consumer privacy and “ensure that private industry can keep innovating.”

 

President Obama is launching this program at a time when consumers and industry leaders are still coming to terms with the devastating hack of Sony Entertainment this past December, among other high-profile breaches. Ironically, on Monday the Administration witnessed another embarrassing example of the potential power of hackers when people claiming to be supporters of ISIS took control of the Pentagon’s social media accounts scoring a propaganda move for the group.

 

President Obama outlined three new pieces of legislation:

 

  1. A consumer privacy bill of rights, a set of rules about how technology companies can use and store sensitive information about their consumers.

 

  1. A set of standards as for when a company must reveal that it has been breached and when a credit card or bank is breached – at present states have their own rules.

 

  1. A bill that would place limits on data that is collected on students using technology in the classroom.

 

In theory these are uncontroversial ideas, but the politics of cybersecurity in the United States is not so clear cut. Especially since the Edward Snowden incident pitted privacy activist against the government security establishment. Additionally, it unclear whether Republicans share the same definition of “cybersecurity” as the President. While google and yahoo lobby budgets continue to grow, it will be interesting to see just what shape a “cybersecurity” definition will take. Nevertheless, President Obama says that he hopes that Congress will join him in making his proposed laws the law of the land.

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