Cyber security is a hot topic in today’s political national security discussion. Nations such as China are using technology to spy on U.S. companies, and have been accused of stealing billions of dollars worth of information from proprietary companies. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has been quoted as saying, “Cyber warfare is the biggest threat to the United States”. This has forced the United States into writing cyber security laws. Over the past year bills such as SOPA, ACTA, and PIPA have all been propositioned to US, Canadian, and European governments alike. The bills themselves have also come under great scrutiny by concerned activist everywhere who worry about the bills impact on free speech and privacy. However, what is the truth about cyber security laws?
The idea that any government can lawfully spy on its citizens is concerning to most people. Cyber security however, is a real issue and governments tread on thin ice when developing laws that are effective. The National Security Agency has had to publicly announce to the American people that they have no intention of reading private emails, nor would they have the room to store the 30 trillion or more emails every year. However, effectively and legally protecting the United States from cyber threats has nonetheless created tension between liberty seekers and the defense department. How to couple freedom with security has plagued the Obama administration since they came into office.
Many laws already in place have enabled protection for private citizens and companies alike regarding copyright and trade laws. These laws are applicable to all individuals within the United States conducting business. It is not too much to ask that the government also live by these same laws, and also use these laws to protect the United States.
Recently, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act was passed even though it came with great scrutiny from Civil Liberties groups and activists. CISPA requires sites like Facebook, and mega companies like Microsoft to share information about their clients if so requested by the government. This law also surpasses other laws such as HIPAA which protects health information of U.S. citizens. Therefore, while the new law aids the government in gathering information regarding cyber security threats, it also comes with a dark shadow that creates tension with citizens.
Concerns over cyber security and privacy will no doubt rule the 21st century, and will undoubtedly continue for as long as the Internet is a part of human communication.