Obama Calls for Legislation Addressing Cyber Threats in State of the Union Address

President Obama will allude to the Sony hacking attack in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, calling for legislation that would try to combat such massive security breaches.

“No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets or invade the privacy of American families, especially our kinds,” Obama will say in his address, according to text released by the White House.

“We are making sure our government integrates intelligence to combat cyber threats, just as we have done to combat terrorism. And tonight, I urge this Congress to finally pass the legislation we need to better meet the evolving threat of cyber-attacks, combat identity theft, and protect our children’s information. If we don’t act, we’ll leave our nation and our economy vulnerable. If we do, we can continue to protect the technologies that have unleashed untold opportunities for people around the globe.”

Obama also plans to call for protecting a “free and open Internet … so that the next generation of digital innovators and entrepreneurs have the platform to keep reshaping our world.” In November, Obama called on the FCC to reclassify the Internet as a telecommunications service, a regulatory move that would give the agency a solid legal footing to impose rules of the road for broadband. He also has called on the FCC to take steps to override state laws that prevent cities and other local governments from offering their own competing Internet service.

Last week, the White House unveiled details of legislation designed to address problems of cybersecurity.

The legislation, which revises a 2011 proposal sidelined in Congress, encourages private sector companies to share cyber-threat information with the Department of Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, which would then share the information “as close to real time as practicable” with federal agencies and other organizations. The incentive for companies is that they would get some “targeted” liability protection for sharing such information.

The legislation also would require private companies to comply with privacy restrictions, such as removing unnecessary personal information and, in order to comply with liability protection, taking measures to protect data that is shared with government agencies.

Obama also is calling for streamlining laws that spell out requirements for companies to inform employees and customers of a data breach.

Obama also will call for Congress to fast-track trade pacts, including the long-debate Trans Pacific Partnership that includes provisions to boost the fight against piracy. Studios have been pushing for passage of the trade agreement.

Update: MPAA chairman Chris Dodd praised Obama for making cybersecurity “a top priority.”

“The Internet is a flourishing source for creativity and economic growth,” Dodd said. “And yet, as the devastating cyberattack against Sony Pictures Entertainment reminds us, this incredible and connected digital space is also littered with sophisticated criminal actors intent on unsettling businesses, invading consumer privacy, and exposing competitive trade secrets and digital products.

“We fully support the President’s commitment to addressing this pressing issue and look forward to working alongside the Administration, Congress and all members of the online ecosystem to strengthen and secure the Internet for everyone.”

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