Time for Congress to Act on Cyber Threat Information Sharing

posted by in Cybersecurity April 21, 2015
Apr 21

Both public and private sector entities fall victim to cyber criminals and other malicious actors each day. Sharing information about cyber threats is critical to prevent and combat these attacks.

Over the past several years, Congress and the courts have taken steps to clarify and promote information sharing. Last year, the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission provided guidance clarifying that private entities can share cyber threat information without raising antitrust concerns — helping to pave the way for more timely cyber threat information sharing. That was a helpful step but there is more that can be done.

For our member companies, ensuring that information networks — their own and those of their partners and customers — are well protected and able to fend off cyber attacks, is critical. The timely and appropriate sharing of information about cybersecurity threats, vulnerabilities, lessons learned, and best practices is imperative to building a collaborative framework to defend networks against attacks. This can and should be done in a manner respectful of privacy as cyber threat information sharing involves the sharing of technical information and rarely, if ever, involves the use of personal information.

To that end, BSA supports six key tenets policymakers should follow in order to usher in an era of effective cyber threat information sharing. These tenets include:

  1. Empowering private entities, through appropriately targeted legislation and policies, to voluntarily share information regarding cyber threat indicators with other private entities or governments, domestically and internationally, by expressly limiting potential legal or regulatory consequences, both for sharing and receiving this information.
  2. Implementing appropriate policies and regulations that protect the privacy of those affected by shared cyber threat information without impeding the ability to share cyber threat indicators in a timely fashion.
  3. Authorizing and encouraging government actors to share relevant cyber threat information with private parties, and accelerating the time periods for sharing such information, including through automated mechanisms.
  4. Facilitating information sharing by private entities with both government and private parties, minimizing contractual terms mandated through laws or regulations to the applicable shared information, and providing flexibility to affected parties to enter into appropriate transactional arrangements.
  5. Establishing a civilian portal for private-to-government information sharing, and ensuring that liability protections be provided for those information-sharing situations. Legislation should also make clear that companies may continue to lawfully share cyber threat indicators with the government in other situations, such as with a law enforcement agency in the event of a potential cybercrime investigation, a regulatory agency, or an agency that is a customer under a government contract.
  6. Ensuring shared cyber threat information is used by the recipient only to promote cybersecurity and for no other purpose, and when information is shared with governments, that the information is used only to promote cybersecurity or for limited law enforcement activities.

The House of Representatives has an opportunity this week to build upon this effort. We expect the House to consider the Protecting Cyber Networks Act (H.R. 1560) and the National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act of 2015 (H.R. 1731). Together, these bills go a long way towards breaking down the legal barriers that currently discourage information sharing while ensuring that privacy is protected. We urge the House to send this legislation to the Senate so that it can to pass its own legislation and send a final product to the President for signature.

Strengthening the Patent System by Ending Patent Abuse

posted by in Intellectual Property March 19, 2015
Mar 19

Patent reform is top of mind on Capitol Hill this month as several Committees hold hearings to discuss the need for patent reform. BSA was honored to testify today at the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. My testimony underscored the need for legislative action to curb abuses in the patent system.

The Small Business Committee is the ideal venue for an organization like BSA to present our views. Although our members range in size – from very small to large, each of them was founded by one or two individuals with passion, an idea, and a vision for making that idea a marketplace reality.

For BSA members, intellectual property is core to a successful and robust software industry. As some of the most innovative companies and largest patent holders in the world, BSA members value a strong, efficient and predictable patent system as an engine for continued innovation. Software related patents are especially important for our members and other small businesses in many sectors of the economy that rely on a patent system that is strong, predictable, efficient, and fair.

In today’s world, much of the innovation that is occurring comes through the development of better software, whether it is building energy efficient offices and homes, running factories more safely and productively, or making our transportation system more efficient. But BSA members are not only among America’s most innovative companies. We are also some of the biggest targets for abusive patent suits.

Patent litigation is enormously expensive, and the costs only continue to grow. A 2011 survey by the American Intellectual Property Law Association found that the median cost of a medium-sized patent litigation is approximately $6 million dollars per party, double the cost reported in 2009 and four times the cost reported in 2001.

These exorbitant costs make all businesses – regardless of size or whether they are plaintiff or defendant – think twice about litigating a patent suit. This dynamic is what enables abusive litigation to thrive and grow. But abusive litigation tactics serve none but the abuser: they do not create jobs; they do not deliver new products and services to consumers; and they do not contribute to our innovation economy.

Patent reform is a top priority for the software industry this year, and BSA is committed to working with lawmakers in both houses of Congress to end this frivolous litigation. By focusing legislative efforts on curbing abusive litigation tactics, we can deter opportunistic litigation while strengthening confidence and clarity in the patent system and the rights it protects.

Click here to download the full text of BSA’s testimony.

Closing the Gaps in EU Cybersecurity: Let’s Get It Right

posted by in Cybersecurity March 5, 2015
Mar 05

Bolstering cybersecurity is a challenge facing boardrooms and government officials around the world. While technology is enabling us to be smarter about how we communicate, create, and solve problems, it has also introduced new risks which must be managed.

In Brussels next week, Member States will meet in Coreper as they continue to work toward consensus on a Network and Information Security (NIS) Directive aimed at harmonizing cybersecurity laws across Europe. That is no small feat when negotiating among 28 countries. A report released this week by BSA charts just how big a task they have before them. (more…)

It’s Time to Support Software Industry Priorities

posted by in Intellectual Property March 3, 2015
Mar 03

The global software industry – exemplified by the unparalleled success of American-born innovation – is changing the way we live. Software creates jobs. It sustains vibrant economies. And it enables us to do amazing things by connecting human ingenuity with technology to not only improve how we live our lives every day but also turn remarkable new ideas into reality.

In recent years it’s been a challenge to foster cooperation and deal making in Washington. However, White House and congressional leaders seem eager to change this dynamic and demonstrate they can work together to pass legislation. This week, the General Counsels of BSA | The Software Alliance member companies are coming to Washington to urge action by Congress and the Obama Administration on a bipartisan, achievable, pro-growth agenda focusing on patent reform, government access to private data, and removing trade barriers. These issues don’t require new spending or changes in the tax code. But they are common sense, drive economic growth, and — with the right support – are achievable this year. (more…)

Malware Threats from Unlicensed Software: Real or Imagined?

posted by in Compliance and Enforcement, Cybersecurity February 18, 2015
Feb 18

It has long been assumed that there is a connection between unlicensed software and cyber security threats. In fact, BSA’s most recent Global Software Survey found that computer users cite exposure to cybersecurity threats from malware as the chief reason not to use unlicensed software.

Malware_ThreatsTo test whether this relationship is indeed real or imagined, BSA commissioned a new analysis from global research firm IDC comparing rates of unlicensed software installed on PCs with a measure of malware incidents on PCs across 81 countries. The results show there is a strong positive correlation between unlicensed software and malware encounters – the higher the unlicensed software rate in a country, the more malware (more…)

Supreme Court Action on Patents Leaves Room for Reform

posted by in Intellectual Property February 12, 2015
Feb 12

Today, the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet held a hearing to examine recent Supreme Court cases in the patent arena. The hearing was carefully watched by opponents and supporters of the Innovation Act (HR 9), a bipartisan patent litigation reform bill introduced last week.

BSA and its member companies strongly support the Innovation Act. The bill is carefully crafted to curb abusive practices in patent litigation and to address asymmetries in the cost of patent litigation that provide incentives to assert weak patents and meritless infringement claims. Today’s hearing made clear that, while the Supreme Court has taken steps to correct imbalances in patent litigation, meaningful change lies beyond the Court’s role in interpreting existing law. (more…)

Pick up the pace on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

posted by in Global Markets February 5, 2015
Feb 05

EU and US negotiators have come to the table in Brussels this week to continue discussions on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

No one ever said negotiating trade agreements was easy. But if these two countries act now, the benefits will be far reaching.

TTIP was envisioned as an ambitious opportunity for the US and EU – two of the world’s most important economies – to simplify and grow trade and business opportunities between their two markets. One study commissioned by the European Commission projects that TTIP could result in an increase of €119 billion in EU GDP and €95 billion in the US, and increase global income by almost €100 billion by 2027. (more…)

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Executive Survey Shows the Benefits of Data Innovation Across the Whole Economy

posted by in Data, Global Markets December 10, 2014
Dec 10


There are pervasive myths and misconceptions about how data innovation is transforming the global economy, from the idea that it’s all about so-called “Big Data” (in fact, analyzing even small data sets can produce useful insights) to the false notion that all data is personal information (when discoveries are being made from data sources such as wind turbines, jet engines, financial markets, crop harvests, traffic patterns and energy consumption).

Today we released a new survey that sets right another such myth — that big tech companies and Silicon Valley start-ups are the main beneficiaries of data innovation. The reality is that data tools are catalysts for innovation and growth across the whole economy, and the benefits of that innovation and growth accrue to society as a whole. (more…)

Pass Surveillance Reform Now

posted by in Data November 14, 2014
Nov 14

BSA | The Software Alliance and other leading technology groups sent the followng letter on September 8, 2014, to the US Senate calling for a swift vote on the USA Freedom Act. The bipartisan legislation would strengthen privacy protections for the public by reforming the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Click here for the letter in pdf format.


September 8, 2014

Dear Majority Leader Reid and Republican Leader McConnell:

The undersigned trade associations and organizations, representing leaders in the technology sector, write to urge your support for the bipartisan USA FREEDOM Act, S. 2685, introduced on July 29, 2014 by Senators Leahy, Franken, Lee, and Heller. (more…)

Time to Break the Logjam on ECPA Reform

posted by in Data October 21, 2014
Oct 21

No one can argue convincingly that the email, photos and documents we store electronically are any less important to our personal and professional lives than the ones we keep on paper. Yet they are still held to different standards: Authorities need a warrant to search an old-fashioned file cabinet, but not your hard drive or email account.

That’s because the law that governs access to digital records, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, or ECPA, turns 28 years old this week. It was enacted in 1986 — well before anyone but a small handful of scientists and academics had ever used the Internet — and it is long overdue for reform. Addressing this issue is an important step in building public trust in the innovative technologies at the heart of the digital economy. (more…)

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