The Hill reports on 200 IBM executives who descended on Capitol Hill lobbying for the right to share our personal private information with the government and other companies "for cybersecurity purposes." But the problem is that there are already laws on the books allowing IBM to share this sort of information. President Obama himself said it best following the Boston Marathon bombing -- if you see something, say something. There are no laws on the books against common sense.
The technology services company runs the information technology networks of major hospitals, banks and electric companies—key infrastructure that lawmakers and security officials warn are top targets for hostile actors to launch a cyberattack.The article goes on to say that IBM believes that the way to combat such incidents is to share information about malicious source code. So if all they want to do is share information about malicious source code, there are already laws on the books. If you see something, say something. There are already security companies such as McAfee and Norton who are paid to identify these threats and snuff them out.
Big Blue is also the top recipient of U.S. patents and owns a trove of valuable intellectual property that would be enticing to probing hackers looking to siphon valuable proprietary information. A report published by computer security firm Mandiant this year concluded that an elite military unit of Chinese hackers has allegedly cracked into the computer systems of more than 100 U.S. companies and stolen intellectual property.
If all IBM is really concerned about is the ability to share malicious source code, then will the bill have adequate privacy protections in it to ensure that CISPA cannot be construed to allow the sharing of personal private information? If so, great. But if not, then such a bill will simply open a brave new world for the sharing of personal private information well beyond what is allowed now. Corporations could devise credit scores and advertising based on people exercising their basic Constitutional rights. In other words, government by the corporation for the corporation. If you are not the right kind of person, then screw you, we won't do any business with you.
The excuses that certain corporations have for not sharing information now is the fear of getting sued for privacy laws. I say, bring it on. If Amazon shares information about a terrorist threat that saves lives and a terrorist turns around and sues, good luck with that. Corporations already write into their privacy policies that they reserve the right to contact law enforcement in the event that they detect illegal activities.
IBM and other such CISPA supporters argue that there is a compelling governmental interest in sharing personal private information with the government in the event of a cyberattack. But privacy is a right granted by the Constitution. The burden of proof is on IBM to establish a compelling public interest and that all alternatives to sharing personal private information are not feasible. If they do establish such proof, then the fair thing to do, as advocated by the ACLU and other such groups, is to have them turn it over to Homeland Security. They are subject to more oversight than the NSA is and privacy would be ensured much better.
And the fact that 36 Congressmen, including 11 "Democrats," co-sponsored the CISPA Act after meeting with 200 IBM execs does not pass the smell test. There are way too many unanswered questions here. IBM may not dirty its hands with political contributions, but which of these execs contribute to political candidates out of their personal pocketbooks? You see how easy it is to claim your hands are clean when they are not? This is a trust issue, especially when you're dealing with people who care more about their bottom line based on their actions than they do about the Constitution.
And there are many other unanswered questions involved here. If I'm a Congressman and I see 200 millionaire execs descending on Capitol Hill, nobody may physically write me a check, but the prospect of donations would weigh heavily on my mind if I did not have a firm grounding in the Constitution. And plenty of other deals can be made that don't involve donations that the media needs to start asking questions about. What about J_O_B_S? After all, gotta get that stagnant economy going; we can't let a piece of paper like the Constitution get in the way. Will IBM move out of their state if they don't get on board? I seem to remember gun companies threatening that following the Sandy Hook shootings.
And what is the height of moral turpitude is the fact that IBM exploited the Boston Marathon tragedy to descend on Capitol Hill while everyone's attention was focused on healing from that tragic bombing. You don't do stuff like that unless you know that what you are doing is wrong. If they had already arranged for the trip in advance, then they should have had the decency to postpone it for another time. But certain people, based on their actions, care only for the bottom line and not for any reasonable standard of right and wrong.