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U.K., U.S. Outline Future Cyber Cooperation

Mar. 14, 2012 - 04:34PM   |  
By Zachary Fryer-Biggs   |   Comments
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Coinciding with a visit by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron March 14, the White House released a document outlining areas for continued cooperation between the U.S. and U.K. in the ongoing effort to improve cybersecurity and thwart cyber crime.

The document, described as a joint fact sheet, listed six points of emphasis agreed to by U.S. President Barack Obama and Cameron.

“Recognizing there are few areas where partnership across borders is more urgent or necessary, the President and Prime Minister noted with satisfaction the deep level of cooperation that exists between the United States and the United Kingdom in ensuring networked technologies continue to empower our societies and economies, and those around the globe,” the document said.

Although most of the points suggested the need for further dialogue without specifics, the document did refer to the ongoing debate in Congress about cyber threat information sharing in the U.S., pointing to the success of a similar U.K. program.

“In the U.K., a new project is underway that enables companies in key sectors of the economy to exchange and act on cyber threat information, and to work with each other and government to develop long-term cybersecurity solutions,” the document said.

“In the U.S., Federal agencies are building trusted relationships with critical sectors for sharing cyber threat information founded upon sound information handling policies and oversight,” the document said. “In addition, the Obama Administration has proposed a new statutory framework to further facilitate the exchange of cyber threat information between the public and private sectors, with strong protections for privacy and civil liberties. The Administration is committed to working with Congress to see such legislation enacted.”

The Obama administration is supporting a bill by Sens. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, among others, that would create an information-sharing office under the authority of the Department of Homeland Security. The bill also would encourage a variety of other information-sharing initiatives, as well as create cybersecurity requirements for some private critical infrastructure companies.

The bill is facing opposition from Republican members of Congress, led by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who say the bill would create costly requirements that could harm business and the economy.

The joint fact sheet also emphasized the need to share threat information between the two countries.

“As the United States and the United Kingdom continue developing joint capabilities that support our national security interests in cyberspace, we are sharing more and more incident data to help us and our allies counter advanced persistent threats,” it said.

The document said the U.S., U.K. and Australia are launching a trilateral program to fund new cybersecurity research and development. No details were released, but the document said the countries will “jointly request research proposals, conduct joint reviews and provide coordinated funding and support to pull-through of the resultant technologies.”

The document also referred to the need to protect the civil liberties of citizens, and efforts toward a “freer and more secure cyberspace.”

The widespread concerns about Internet privacy surrounding the two anti-piracy bills that failed to pass either the House or Senate have left the administration and members of Congress exceedingly cautious about cyber policy.

The sponsors of the administration-backed cybersecurity bill even submitted an editorial explaining their bill’s protection of civil liberties to the consumer electronics website cnet.com.

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