Bipartisan Policy Center cyber threat report falls short

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The old saw about those who would give up liberty for more security deserving neither springs easily to mind when reading a report recommending that wiretap laws being loosened to allow better cybersecurity threat information sharing.

The report comes from the Bipartisan Policy Center's Cybersecurity Task Force--co-chaired by former CIA and National Security Agency director Michael Hayden and Mortimer Zuckerman, a real estate and sometime media magnate. Task force members mostly are former national security officials with the notable exception of George Washington University law professor Jeffrey Rosen.

That such a task force should, in other words, argue that existing wiretap law should be weakened isn't a surprise.

For example, although the report is long on ways current law prevents Internet service providers from sharing cybersecurity threat information with the government, it's short on how information sharing should be accomplished while still protecting personally identifiable information. It also fails to grapple with the fact that cybersecurity legislation under consideration on Capitol Hill has provoked many privacy concerns over the way all proposed bills would permit reuse of the shared information for other purposes.

Arguing that protections should be stripped away without discussing mitigations to ensure that the goodness of cyber threat information sharing is permitted and not incurring the badness of legally permitted massive surveillance isn't good enough.

The authors of this report missed an opportunity to move the debate forward; they settled for restating one side of it. - Dave