House Faces Both Support and Criticism over Cybersecurity Bills Discussed this Past Week

As reported by The Hill this past week, the House was set to discuss two important Cybersecurity Bills, both expected to pass. According to the proposed bill, the Protecting Cyber Networks Act is intended “to improve cybersecurity in the United States through enhanced sharing of information about cybersecurity threats, and for other purposes.” Separately, the National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act is an amendment to the Homeland Security Act of 2002 and according to that proposed bill it is expected “to enhance multi-directional sharing of information related to cyber-security risks and strengthen privacy and civil liberties, protections, and for other purposes.. On the surface, neither of the proposed bills seems problematic. There is some significant support for the bill, as noted in The Hill’s piece Tech will be watching cyber vote – in that the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) has already sent a letter to the House expressing its support for the bills. In the letter ITI said that it “firmly believe[s] that passing legislation to help to increase voluntary cybersecurity threat information and sharing between the private sector, is an important step Congress can take to enable all stakeholders to address threats, stem losses, and shield their systems, partners and customers.”

Read More

Wikimedia v NSA Complaint

The grounds for which Wikimedia is basing its lawsuit involve the mass surveillance program that the NSA has been implementing. One of the most troublesome facets of this program, according to Wikimedia’s pleading, is the NSA’s search and seizure of internet communications, which is called “Upstream” surveillance. Wikimedia argues that these actions violate its users most basic of rights, citing the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment protection of freedom of speech, and Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure because defendants’ conduct involved suspicionless seizure and searching of Internet traffic by NSA on U.S. soil.   The founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, continues to emphasize that user privacy is of utmost importance. When such privacy is put in question, and people fear that their information will be leaked, the Wiki experience is seriously undermined. This issue, with the NSA specifically, was made much more serious and real with the Edward Snowden 2013 public disclosures, which revealed information about Wikimedia’s programs. According to its blog postings, Wikimedia has been looking for a way to file a lawsuit ever since this incident. Zeroing in on the “upstream” surveillance aspect allows the suit to serve as a vehicle to address Wikimedia’s views on how…..

Read More

IAPP DC Summit 2015

Washington, D.C. – March 9, 2015 On March 4-6, 2015, the International Association of Privacy Professionals ("IAPP") held its annual Global Privacy Summit at the Mariott Marquis in Downtown Washington D.C., and as per the usual, it was a who's who of privacy pros in attendance. eWhite House Watch had the pleasure of attending the conference as part of IAPP’s Press Corps, and is pleased to report that it was a smashing success. This year, the three-day privacy extravaganza featured topics ranging from keynote speaker Glen Greenwald's Snowden coverage, privacy issues surrounding the Internet of Things (IoT), privacy issues for startups, cyber insurance, and the U.S. Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights proposed by Obama just a few weeks prior to the event.  Regular conference attendee (and past IAPP conference speaker) Fernando M. Pinguelo (partner and Chair of Scarinci Hollenbeck’s Cyber Security & Data Protection group) observed, “IAPP’s tradition of offering high caliber presenters with real-world experience and insight continues, and is matched only by the notable keynote speakers who add a level of urgency to the data privacy and security dialogue and the conference attendees whose active participation contributes greatly to the panel discussions and learning experience.” eWhite House Watch also had the opportunity to sit in on a private roundtable discussion between IAPP President and CEO J. Trevor Hughes and Vice President of Research and Education Omar Tene. Referring to the year-over-year increase in consumer awareness regarding data privacy concerns, Hughes drew analogies between the digital and industrial economies. Both Hughes and Tene agreed that the media, consumer awareness, and the influence of the president were critical to getting uniform data privacy legislation on the books here in the U.S., and that unfortunately, such a massive shift in the regulation of data privacy might only be sparked by an Exxon-Valdez-caliber breach incident. “Aside from the informative programs available to lawyers in private practice, I find the conference also offers me the unique opportunity to meet with clients and colleagues in one location, many of whom also make it a point to attend this one in particular,” added Angelo A. Stio, III, partner in the Litigation & Dispute Resolution Department of Pepper Hamilton LLP, and a member of its Privacy, Security and Data Protection group. This year's conference was littered with networking events, and was packed full of consulting service providers on the exhibitor floor. And for the first time, a new session type called "From the Game Changers" was introduced as shorter, more informal professional-to-professional chats on practical experiences these 'Game Changers' withstood during their careers. In all, the 2015 Global Privacy Summit was a wealth of knowledge for both seasoned and aspiring privacy professionals, and lived up to the high standards of event coordination and substantive content that IAPP members have come to know and expect from the organization. "We really like how this event brings together the entire industry, including the regulators, and allows us to share our often differing views on the latest developments in the field," reflected Michael Morgan, Of Counsel in Cybersecurity and Data Privacy group at Jones Day. eWhiteHouse Watch’s Executive Editor stated “we are already looking forward to next year's event.”

Net Neutrality – A Win for Liberty or Lawyers?

On February 26, 2015, the FCC ruled in favor of net neutrality by applying Title II (of the Communications Act of 1934 to Internet service providers and reclassifying broadband access as a telecommunications service. Championing the new regulations, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said, "[t]his is no more a plan to regulate the Internet than the First Amendment is a plan to regulate free speech. They both stand for the same concept." While Mr. Wheeler views the regulations as a referee, Telecom company's insist that the measures will do more harm than good, and consumers will bear the brunt of change. What is net neutrality? In short, adoption of Title II established three bright line rules… No Blocking: broadband providers may not block access to legal content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices. No Throttling: broadband providers may not impair or degrade lawful Internet traffic on the basis of content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices. No Paid Prioritization: broadband providers may not favor some lawful Internet traffic over other lawful traffic in exchange for consideration – in other words, no “fast lanes.”  This rule also bans ISPs from prioritizing content and services of their affiliates. Who is for it and who is against it? Those who support net neutrality argue that allowing “paid prioritization” unfairly raises prices on content services and that adoption of title II levels the playing field for all Americans. Opponents say the Title II designation will stifle innovation in broadband. A group of Internet service providers (ISPs), including AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon, argue that the new classification permits the FCC to conduct "unprecedented government micromanagement of all aspects of the Internet economy." What does this law mean for the consumer? The FCC promises that broadband will continued to cost the same amount as it did before. This ruling establishes the authority to implement regulations put in place in 2010, and will grant the FCC the administrative authority to examine practices and hear complaints. This past week, at the Mobile World Conference, Mr. Wheeler seemed argued that he his plans have been mischaracterized. Wheeler dismisses the idea that adoption of Title II is heavy handed regulation but is instead, as Mr. Wheeler characterized it, a referee throwing up the card when someone acts in an unfair manner. In Europe there are proposals coming through the European commission which would allow specialized services, being provided by telecom groups, to be delivered at guaranteed speeds for customers - very different from what has been proposed int the US. Many opponents have accused the President as relaying pressure from Facebook and google to take action on their behalfs. While adoption of the regulations will begin to have an effect in early summer, the telecoms companies are saying to Mr. Wheeler - “we’ll see you in court.” http://www.mediaite.com/tv/john-oliver-explains-fccs-net-neutrality-ruling-to-confused-republicans/

President Obama Rejuvenates the Cyber Troops: Is the Private Sector be on Board?

This past week, President Obama met with tech gurus at Stanford University to discuss cybersecurity and emphasized the need to focus more efforts on combating cyber security threats. The theme of his speech was the unification of efforts by the private sector and public sector. The flexibility of the private sector combined with the wealth of data collected by the government could, the President hopes make for an aggressive partnership capable of combating cyber threats. While the President’s remarks were very broad, a plenary session of corporate leaders spoke about two issues that might define a cyber security relationship. First, the need to reduce outdated legislation that hinders cyber protection efforts and Second, the definition of “data” that is to be shared.   During a plenary panel, led by Director of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, corporate leaders talked about the the growing need to face cyber threats facing their industries and hurdles to doing so. One of the themes that each executive touched on was that outdated legislation and regulatory measures hinder the company’s ability to face modern threats. For example, Kenneth Chenault of American Express, highlighted that limits on access to customers via text messaging and email hindered Amex’s ability to rapidly respond to such threats. Additionally, Mr. Chenault called for greater transparency in the way in which the government collects and shares it’s data with private industry, claiming that less than 1% of all threats facing Amex were sourced from government entities.   Mr. Bernard Thompson, from Kaiser Permanente emphasized that private industry should not be willing to blindly hand over their data to the government. Healthcare data is sensitive information and he said that the relationship between government and private industry should be clearly defined by the type of data industry is willing to share. He emphasized that he would under no circumstances be willing to share “content” with the government, but would provide information about those attempting to gain access to that content. Mr. Thompson reiterated the point that outdated legislation continues to hinder Kaiser Permanente’s ability to face growing threats. Financial and Healthcare corporations like American Express and Kaiser Permanente respectively, have built their reputations on trust with their customers. Any talk of data sharing will need to be clearly defined. Additionally, any government led cyber security policy will inevitably usher in a series of new regulations and with them regulatory cost. Corporations, unlike our sluggish bureaucracy must make cuts were new regulatory measures are needed to be enforced. A certain degree of deregulation of outdated measures will be necessary to help corporations create a lean cyber fighting mechanisms. http://www.c-span.org/video/?324360-2/publicprivate-collaboration-cybersecurity  

Obama’s Cybersecurity Initiative: Substance? Or Hot Air?

Success of the President's proposed cyber legislation hinges on the willingness of corporations to share their data with the government.  But why would a company want to share data with the government? While the Sony hack was shocking to most, it’s unlikely that corporations will be willing to trust the government with their customers most sensitive data. For one, businesses owe a duty to their customers to maintain their data in accordance with their agreements with and expectations of their customers.  Also, despite billions of dollars in funding, the federal bureaucracy has failed to meet its own federal cybersecurity standards. Using data from General Accounting Office, George Mason University researchers found that in 2006, there were more than 5,503 cyber-breaches on federal IT systems, in 2013 - 61,213 cyber-breaches. Since 2002, the federal government has had its own legislation similar to the one proposed by the President last week, and despite $78.8 billion in funding, the number of IT security breaches has increased more than 10 times since 2006. Critics argue criminalizing cybercrime will not prevent what Americans fear - industrial espionage and oversea hackers. Summary of President’s proposal: 1.      Cyber information sharing between private sector and government, with liability protection for companies 2.      Expanding RICO to include cyber-crime 3.      Criminalizing the sale of botnets and the sale of banking information overseas 4.      Greater restrictions on selling spyware 5.      Gives Courts the authority to shut down botnets engaged in distributed denial of service attacks and other criminal activity 6.      Making rogue insiders punishable by the CFAA (Computer Fraud and Abuse Act) 7.      Uniform national data breach notification - 30 days within attack 8.      Establish a consumer policy bill of rights Additionally, critics argue that the law could hinder U.S. internet users who have no intention of committing cybercrimes but who may be out of compliance with a U.S. judgment in an effort to debilitate cybercrime. What is lacking from this bill is a mechanism that actively seeks out global cyber threats; and while the new legislation may reign in domestic cybercriminals - it does nothing to relieve our increasing threat - rapidly emerging economies with no form of legal redress for victims of cybercrimes. Despite bills that promise to reign in cybercriminals, it remains incumbent on companies to strengthen their own defenses.