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To fight hackers, Obama wants companies to share threats

Tuesday, January 13, 2015 - 14:50
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US President Barack Obama on Tuesday will announce a renewed push for cybersecurity legislation after recent headline-grabbing hacks against companies like Sony Pictures and Home Depot.

[WASHINGTON] US President Barack Obama on Tuesday will announce a renewed push for cybersecurity legislation after recent headline-grabbing hacks against companies like Sony Pictures and Home Depot.

Mr Obama will throw his support behind efforts to give liability protection to companies that quickly share information about attacks, but will require strict protections for personal information, the White House said in a statement.

The White House first proposed cyber legislation in 2011. In the last Congress, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a bill, but the Senate failed to clear legislation.

Lawmakers have struggled to balance corporate concerns about liability with consumer fears about privacy, especially following the leak of information about government surveillance programs by former contractor Edward Snowden.

The government itself has not been immune from cyber problems. On Monday, social media accounts for the U.S. military command that oversees operations in the Middle East were hacked by people claiming to be allied with Islamic State militants.

Mr Obama will meet with congressional leaders at the White House on Tuesday, and is expected to discuss his cybersecurity proposals.

In a speech at the Department of Homeland Security's cybersecurity nerve center slated for 3.10 pm ET (2010 GMT), Mr Obama also will propose new powers for law enforcement to investigate and prosecute cybercrime, the White House said.

His proposal includes measures to allow for the prosecution of the sale of botnets, and would give courts the power to shut down botnets responsible for distributed denial of service attacks.

Botnets are typically used to steal financial information, to relay spam messages and to conduct "denial-of-service"attacks against websites by having all the computers try to connect simultaneously.

Other measures would be aimed at deterring the sale of spyware and would make selling stolen credit card information overseas a crime, the White House said.

Mr Obama also will announce details of a cybersecurity summit slated for Feb 13, an event that will take place not at the White House, but in Silicon Valley, at Stanford University.

Mr Obama's legislative proposals are part of a preview of his Jan 20 State of the Union address.

On Monday, he announced he wants to work with Congress on a law that would require companies to tell consumers within 30 days from the discovery of a data breach that their personal information has been compromised.

He also wants to codify a "Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights"that gives consumers more say in how companies use their data.

REUTERS

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