Telecomm Industry Fully Supports CISPA Passage

    April 27, 2012

In Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith, there’s a quote fitting the Telecommunications Industry’s reaction to the House of Representatives passing CISPA, saying “So this is how liberty dies, with thunderous applause. ” While a little bombastic, considering the Industry’s behavior, it’s also very apt. Who knew Senator Amidala–and George Lucas–could so profoundly predict the near future? Furthermore, who knew Natalie Portman, after all the grief she took over her prequel performances, would have such a prophetic line?

The reason the word applause is so fitting has to do with the title–Telecommunications Industry Applauds House Passage of CISPA; Calls for Swift Senate Action on Cybersecurity–of the press release the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) put out earlier today.

The title reveals just about all you need to know concerning the release’s content. It’s a great deal of “CISPA strikes the right balance between strong cyber protection and a flexible, innovation-friendly framework…” and “…it establishes a collaborative approach that won’t introduce heavy bureaucracy that could harm high tech innovation…”

Some of the TIA’s more prominent members include:

Dell Inc.
Dolby Laboratories Inc.
Intel Corporation
JPMorgan Chase & Co. — an investment firm…
Kenwood USA Corp.
Microsoft Corporation
Motorola Mobility Inc.
Nokia Inc.
Samsung Telecom. America

This is only a small fraction of a clearly large and powerful contingent. I’m curious, however, about the inclusion of Motorola. Considering the Google purchase of said company, does this mean Google, a staunch opponent of SOPA, is a CISPA supporter? Furthermore, the search engine king has remained tight-lipped about their position, save for copping to lobbying efforts, does Motorola’s appearance here give Google position away?

As for the privacy issues, your position on CISPA concerning privacy will dictate how you react to the aforementioned Star Wars quote:

Queen Amidala herself

Is CISPA the threat to privacy some many–including us–are making it out to be? Considering the lack of respect for the Fourth Amendment that has been heavily attached to the version that’s been approved, it’s quite possible CISPA will indeed be a threat to individual privacy. The way the amendment is worded, warrants based on probable cause do not apply. Is this something that should be applauded?

The TIA’s statement, in its entirety:

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), the leading association representing the manufacturers and suppliers of high-tech global communications networks, applauded the House passage of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) and called for swift Senate action to improve the nation’s cybersecurity.

TIA President Grant Seiffert commented, “CISPA strikes the right balance between strong cyber protection and a flexible, innovation-friendly framework. The legislation takes a significant step forward in safeguarding consumers and businesses from increasingly aggressive and sophisticated cyber attacks. At the same time, it establishes a collaborative approach that won’t introduce heavy bureaucracy that could harm high tech innovation. The relationship between government and industry that this bill supports is critical to the current and future economic success and security of America.”

“CISPA gained bipartisan support in the House and we encourage the Senate to act quickly to consider this bill,” Seiffert continued. “The ICT industry plays an important role in detecting, preventing, and responding to cyber threats faced by U.S. institutions and businesses. Legislation that goes beyond the flexible and collaborative approach taken by CISPA could both undermine industry’s effort to fight cyber crime and generally harm American innovation.”

Last week, TIA sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) urging them to support cybersecurity measures that protect U.S. innovation and reflect the borderless, global nature of today’s cyber threats. The letter—which can be viewed in its entirety here —encourages members of Congress to focus on the following policy goals and legislation:

  • Improving Information-sharing. Ensure that the private sector has access to information necessary to defend against cyber attacks, protect the private sector from liability for its efforts to improve cybersecurity, and support existing information-sharing and analysis organizations.
  • TIA supports the Cyber Intelligence Sharing Protection Act (H.R. 3523).

  • Supporting Cybersecurity Research and Development. Increase federal cybersecurity R&D activities to complement the significant efforts already being made by the ICT industry in this area.
  • TIA supports the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act (H.R. 2096), and also supports the Advancing America’s Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Act (H.R. 3834).
  • FISMA Reform. TIA supports efforts to improve and harmonize cybersecurity programs across government agencies. In doing so, Congress should focus on the security practices of agencies and their personnel while avoiding ICT security standard requirements that could prove disruptive to the ICT supply chain.
  • Improving Public Awareness through Education. TIA strongly supports federal efforts to increase awareness of cybersecurity issues among both institutional users and the general public.

At no point does the statement acknowledge the potential privacy–and liberty–risks CISPA represents, yet one of the more lucrative industries of the modern era fully supports the bill to the fullest.

So again, is the potential threat to civil liberty and privacy worth applauding?