Feeds

Facebook defends support for CISPA monitoring bill

Other tech sponsors strangely silent

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

Facebook has issued a statement explained why it is supporting the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) HR 3523, which is currently being considered by Congress.

CISPA would set up a mechanism for the government's security services to share information on new threats with private companies and utilities. In return, those companies can share data on their users with the government if requested, and the bill ensures they are bulletproof from legal fallout if people complain. Data sharing is voluntary and some data can be stripped of identifying features.

But internet rights campaigners are concerned that the loose language of the legislation will leave it open to be used in a much wider context than national online security. Dan Auerbach, staff technologist with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), told The Register that the provisions of the bill could be stretched to include sharing data for crimes like piracy.

"The biggest problem with the bill is that it's too vague," he explained. "The language in it now is broad enough that it could be used to allow, or compel companies, to do copyright enforcement."

He explained that while the information exchange was voluntary, the government is adept at encouraging companies to play ball. Access to lucrative federal contracts could be offered to those who are willing to cooperate and compliance might be written into such contracts. It's a pattern of behavior that's been noted before, he said.

The bill will be debated in the US House of Representatives this month, and has attracted over 100 co-sponsors. There's also an impressive list of technology companies lining up to support CISPA, including Microsoft, Intel, EMC, Oracle and Facebook. Facebook is the only company to respond to El Reg's requests for comment, and then it stuck to a general statement.

"HR 3523 would impose no new obligations on us to share data with anyone – and ensures that if we do share data about specific cyber threats, we are able to continue to safeguard our users’ private information, just as we do today,' said Facebook's Joel Kaplan, vice president of US public policy in a statement on the site.

"We recognize that a number of privacy and civil liberties groups have raised concerns about the bill. The concern is that companies will share sensitive personal information with the government in the name of protecting cybersecurity. Facebook has no intention of doing this and it is unrelated to the things we liked about HR 3523 in the first place."

Facebook's support was seen as important in persuading legislators to drop the proposed SOPA and PIPA laws, along with the market and lobbying muscle of Google. The Chocolate Factory isn't listed as a supporter of the legislation and it has not replied to requests for comment.

A committee staffer working on the bill told The Register that the provisions of the bill were open to amendment and that talks are ongoing between civil liberties groups and the bill's sponsors that would clear up many of the issues. A series of amendments will be introduced next week, which should allay concerns over the scope of CISPA.

In particular, the staffer said that there is a provision within CISPA that explicitly bans the government from insisting on getting information on customers in exchange for security information, and any exchange would be absolutely voluntary. There is also no provision for the data to be used just for intellectual property theft, and the IP clauses in the bill had been included were intended to go after overseas players going after military or commercial data via network hacking, not file sharers.

"They're not looking for some kid in the Dallas suburbs hacking into his school to change his grade," the staffer said. "This is about foreign intelligence services and organized crime figures from overseas." ®

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

More from The Register

next story
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
Putin: Crack Tor for me and I'll make you a MILLIONAIRE
Russian Interior Ministry offers big pile o' roubles for busting pro-privacy browser
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.