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Cybersecurity Debate: Three Things to Know

Speaker: Robert K. Knake, Senior Fellow for Cyber Policy, Council on Foreign Relations
April 27, 2015

The debate over cybersecurity is heating up again in Washington. Congress is considering multiple pieces of legislation intended to enhance the ability of the private sector and government to share information about digital threats. Meanwhile, the White House has put forth its own proposal, which diverges from those measures on major issues. Robert Knake, CFR’s senior fellow for cyber policy, offers three things to know about the debate on cybersecurity information sharing.

Expanded Monitoring: Congress and the White House generally agree on the need for the private sector and government to share intelligence about cyber threats. Where they diverge is on the extent to which private service providers, such as AT&T and Verizon, can monitor Internet traffic, explains Knake.

Improved Sharing: Most companies already monitor their networks for threats and share cybersecurity information with other firms and government, says Knake. President Barack Obama’s proposal would simply clarify that authority, while bills supported by the Congressional intelligence committees would allow ISPs to monitor all traffic crossing their networks.

Choosing a Portal: President Obama wants cybersecurity information shared between the government and the private sector to pass through the Department of Homeland Security, while congressional intelligence committees want the National Security Agency to be the hub. These divisions do not fall along partisan lines, says Knake.

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