17:23 GMT +319 September 2018
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    Obama Uses Sony Hack to Push CISPA, Cybersecurity Agenda

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    On Monday, President Obama delivered a speech at the Federal Trade Commission in which he outlined proposals for three new laws aimed at protecting Americans against digital data breaches.

    The president also announced that he will make a series of speeches over the week regarding digital security, including one on Tuesday at the Department of Homeland Security.

    "In the digital age…so much depends on our digital economy," Obama said as took to the podium.

    The proposals come as a direct response to consumer concerns over several high-profile hacking scandals in the last few months. Target, Home Depot, and PlayStation all suffered security compromises in the last year, resulting in massive thefts of consumer credit card data.

    Nine out of ten Americans feel they've lost control of their personal information, Obama said, and a key part of Obama’s proposal would make it mandatory for companies to alert consumers within 30 days of a data breach.

    The proposal will also close loopholes which allow the overseas trading of stolen identities.

    The second law being proposed would revitalize a failed 2012 bill called the “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights,” which is a kind of corporate transparency bill aimed at providing consumers with a say in how companies use their online data.

    The White House said it plans to update this bill within 45 days.

    The third law specifically targets educational software companies, preventing them from selling user data collected through educational apps and other programs. 

    75 companies have signed a "Student Privacy" pledge, and the president urges others to sign, as well.

    "Our children are leaving us in the dust," Obama said. "Imagining a future we can only dream of."

    The White House also says Obama will propose a voluntary ethics code, urging utility companies to protect consumer data as well.

    The speech may send mixed messages to the public. While the Obama administration pushes for transparency, Congress will soon vote on the controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), a bill that makes it easier for the NSA to gather consumer data from private companies.

    Originally proposed four years ago, CISPA has reemerged in light of the cyberattacks on Sony Pictures in November. While ostensibly a security measure, CISPA would allow the government to force companies to hand over user data without warrants or subpoenas.

    But security experts doubt such data collection could prevent cyberattacks like the one at Sony.

    “Even if Sony had opened up its system to the government,” said TechDirt’s Mike Masnick. “…it seems unlikely that the NSA would have magically spotted this hack and done anything about it.”

    For his part, when CISPA was first introduced in 2011, President Obama said he would veto the bill if it came across his desk. This time around, however, the bill was re-introduced by a fellow Democratic party member, Maryland Representative Dutch Ruppersberger, following comments Obama made at his year-end press conference indicating that Congress should work hard on "stronger cybersecurity laws that allow for information sharing across private sector platforms as well as the public sector."

    Within minutes of the president's speech, the twitter account of U.S. Central Command was taken over by pro-ISIL hackers.

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