US President announces improved data security in the State of the Union address

January 21, 2015 |

The Executive branch of the US Government, usually called the President, previously mooted the need for improved data breach notification laws at the Federal level in the wake of the Sony hack.

In today’s State of the Union the President provided further details when he stated:

No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets, or invade the privacy of American families, especially our kids. We are making sure our government integrates intelligence to combat cyber threats, just as we have done to combat terrorism. And tonight, I urge this Congress to finally pass the legislation we need to better meet the evolving threat of cyber-attacks, combat identity theft, and protect our children’s information. If we don’t act, we’ll leave our nation and our economy vulnerable. If we do, we can continue to protect the technologies that have unleashed untold opportunities for people around the globe.

and in balancing privacy rights with improved security laws:

As Americans, we cherish our civil liberties?—?and we need to uphold that commitment if we want maximum cooperation from other countries and industry in our fight against terrorist networks. So while some have moved on from the debates over our surveillance programs, I haven’t. As promised, our intelligence agencies have worked hard, with the recommendations of privacy advocates, to increase transparency and build more safeguards against potential abuse. And next month, we’ll issue a report on how we’re keeping our promise to keep our country safe while strengthening privacy.

The privacy aspects of the speech is covered in the article Obama privacy plan has two audiences, and could fail both which provides:

Americans and Europeans will have a keen eye on President Obama’s State of the Union address tonight, looking for cybersecurity privacy advancements that have been hard to come by since the president took office.

Obama previewed tonight’s remarks last week, but there is not high hope that his proposed legislation will produce anything more than what has come since he took office in 2009, which is very little.

While many Americans are feeling privacy fatigue with information gathering and sharing over the past years, including the Snowden and NSA revelations, Europeans want to see a broad U.S privacy plan that dovetails with a U.S-EU trade deal called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, told Politico, “An unannounced but intended audience for the administration’s plan is to remove a serious obstacle to its plans for a U.S.-EU trade deal.”

After last year’s hacks and cyberattacks, the U.S. government now supports controversial legislation that indemnifies tech companies from sharing private user data.

During a 15-minute speech at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) last week, Obama outlined a data breach notification law that has advantages for companies that share cybersecurity information, a revamped Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights and a student privacy bill.

“This mission, protecting our information and privacy in the information age, this should not be a partisan issue,” Obama said at the FTC. He hopes to play his proposals off devastating hacks over the past 12 months that hit the likes of Sony Pictures Entertainment, Target and Home Depot.

For the past six years, Congress has been Obama’s nemesis and despite recent events that does not figure to change going forward.

Obama’s proposals just don’t present much new from his previous plans.

Mark Jaycox, legislative analyst for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, wrote in his blog with regards to a new federal data breach law that “many of these proposals are old ideas from the administration’s May 2011 Cybersecurity legislative proposal and should be viewed skeptically.”

In terms of information sharing, Jaycox said existing plans are robust but under-utilized and under-resourced. “While the administration’s information sharing proposal may have better privacy protections than dangerously drafted bills like CISPA, we think the initial case for expanding information sharing requires much less secrecy about how intelligence and law enforcement agencies collect and use data on our networks,” he wrote.

In regards to the Student Digital Privacy Act, many experts like Obama’s plan but are skeptical it can pass Congress. Seventy-five companies including Microsoft and Apple have signed a privacy pledge to protect student information.

Fred Cate, a law professor at Indiana University and senior fellow at the Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research, told FedScoop that the issue should have bipartisan support — but he questioned whether legislators could pass “anything with the president’s fingerprints on it.” He also feared the law would not be strong enough

One Response to “US President announces improved data security in the State of the Union address”

  1. US President announces improved data security in the State of the Union address | Australian Law Blogs

    […] US President announces improved data security in the State of the Union address […]

Leave a Reply