Friday, October 23, 2015
Increasingly, governments are becoming the enemies of data protection
A much-debated amendment to the 'Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act' (CISA) is splitting US authorities and the country’s technology giants. Last night the amendment passed through the first stages of a US Senate vote by 83 to 14, and if it passes a full Senate vote next week it will allow US courts to pursue foreign nationals accused of cybercrimes, even if they were perpetrated against other foreign citizens. In other words, it considerably lowers the barriers for prosecuting cybercrime committed abroad, and means the US could prosecute anyone who steals data from anyone or any entity, regardless of where that crime occurs or whether a US entity is involved. Extradition treaties mean that those accused of such crimes could then be brought back to the US to stand trial and face possible jail time. For many people, including politicians from both sides of the house and a broad sweep of the business community, the amendment is a positive, strengthening IT security. Within the technology sector, however, the likes of Apple, Dropbox, Facebook, Google, Twitter and the Wikimedia Foundation have revolted against it, citing privacy concerns. Not all tech companies are convinced that the amendment to CISA will actually improve security and many are concerned about the privacy implications it poses.