Web

Psh, Obama’s not going to veto CISPA, says bill co-sponsor

CISPA sponsor Rogers: Obama will back down on veto

Call it wishful thinking or a sage prediction: Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) co-sponsor Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) believes President Obama will sign the controversial cybersecurity legislation — if it ever gets to his desk — despite the fact that his office threatened a veto.

“I think if we can get a bill on information-sharing to the president’s desk, he’ll sign it. I do believe that,” said Rogers during a panel discussion hosted by The Week magazine.

During pre-debate of CISPA in Congress, the White House issued a statement saying that it would not sign any cybersecurity bill that failed to protect critical infrastructure networks (like electrical grids, water systems, or air traffic control systems), and lacked privacy safeguards for citizens. CISPA provides neither — though the last part is technically up for debate.

What is CISPA, again?

CISPA, which passed the House in April, gives business the ability to share information — including private information about users — with the Federal government with near-blanket immunity. As long as any of the information shared can be used for “cybersecurity” or “national security” purposes, companies cannot be sued or tried under criminal law for disclosing customer information. The government would also be able to more easily share classified information with the private sector. Though improvements were made before it passed the House, CISPA remains problematic for privacy and civil liberty advocates.

Ye shall not pass

At the moment, however, it doesn’t appear as though CISPA or any of the cybersecurity legislation currently before the Senate will find its way to the president anytime soon. Last week, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), the lead sponsor of the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 — also known as CSA, it’s an expansive cybersecurity bill that includes similar, troublesome language as CISPA, and has support of both Obama and Democrats in the Senate — said the Senate must vote on CSA or its predecessor before July, or it will get lost in the Senate’s busy summer schedule, which is weighed down by more-pressing, appropriation legislation.

…or something

That said, Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) are currently working to rectify bi-partisan disagreement surrounding the critical infrastructure safeguards portion of CSA and a competing bill, SECURE IT, which is Republican-backed. In CSA, the Department of Homeland Security would serve as a regulatory body tasked with making sure companies that control critical infrastructure networks meet certain security benchmarks. In SECURE IT, those benchmarks are voluntary — meaning no further “big government regulation” — though there are incentives in place for businesses that put the prescribed security measures in place. According to The Hill, the Whitehouse-Kyl compromise will likely lack any further regulation, which is likely necessary in order for the Republican-led House to pass the bill.

Read more about CSA and SECURE IT here.

Veto shmeto

As far as Obama’ veto threat goes, well, the signs aren’t exactly good. A month after the threat was issued, Obama’s cybersecurity head, Howard Schmidt — a known CISPA critic — retired, possibly putting the White House’s official stance on the matter in flux. Furthermore, Obama isn’t exactly known for sticking tightly to his guns on vetoes; the president originally threatened to strike down the highly controversial National Defense Authorization Act, an annual defense appropriations bill, which contained a provision that allows the indefinite detention of American citizens held under suspicion of terrorism. He ultimately signed the bill. Still, Obama did try to tourniquet the political wound by issuing an executive order guaranteeing that his administration would not make use of the provision. And in March, a federal judge issued a historic injunction against the provision, saying that it was unconstitutional and would stifle free speech.

Last word

Not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday soon, Congress will pass cybersecurity legislation. That legislation will contain provisions that impede upon our privacy and possibly our civil liberties. Furthermore, chances are good that Obama will sign whatever Congress passes. We are, after all, at cyberwar — a war that we appear to have started, mind you, with the release of Stuxnet, and now Flame — the world’s “most sophisticated cyber-weapon.” (Yeah, that was created by the U.S. and Israel to combat Iran, too, just like Stuxnet, according to a report out today from the Washington Post.) This is one of the first times in modern history that America’s “borders” are not firmly protected from foreign government intrusion. By Washington’s count, that’s bad policy and bad politics. As the great political philosopher The Dude once said, “This aggression will not stand, man.”

Web

Encryption-busting law passed in Australia may have global privacy implications

Controversial laws have been passed in Australia which oblige tech companies to allow the police to access encrypted messages, undermining the privacy of encryption with potentially global effects.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Twilight Zone’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in December, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to endangered cats

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Computing

How to change your Gmail password in just a few quick steps

Regularly updating your passwords is a good way to stay secure online, but each site and service has their own way of doing it. Here's a quick guide on how to change your Gmail password in a few short steps.
Computing

Tired of paying a monthly fee for Word? The best Microsoft Office alternatives

Looking for a competent word processor that isn't Microsoft Word? Thankfully, the best alternatives to Microsoft Office offer robust features, expansive compatibility, and an all-too-familiar aesthetic. Here are our favorites.
Web

Google’s updated Santa Tracker entertains and teaches coding throughout December

Google's Santa Tracker is in its fifteenth year and is back again with even more features. You can have fun with more than 20 games, learn about different holiday traditions around the world, and enjoy some festive animations.
Computing

Microsoft is ‘handing even more of online life’ to Google, Mozilla CEO says

Not everyone is happy with Microsoft's switch to Google's Chromium engine. In a new blog post, Mozilla CEO Chris Beard writes that he believes the move is "handing online life control" to Google.
Computing

Worried about your online privacy? We tested the best VPN services

Browsing the web can be less secure than most users would hope. If that concerns you, a virtual private network — aka a VPN — is a decent solution. Check out a few of the best VPN services on the market.
Computing

Edit, sign, append, and save with six of the best PDF editors

There are plenty of PDF editors to be had online, and though the selection is robust, finding a solid solution with the tools you need can be tough. Here, we've rounded up best PDF editors, so you can edit no matter your budget or OS.
Computing

How to easily record your laptop screen with apps you already have

Learning how to record your computer screen shouldn't be a challenge. Lucky for you, our comprehensive guide lays out how to do so using a host of methods, including both free and premium utilities, in both MacOS and Windows 10.
Computing

From beautiful to downright weird, check out these great dual monitor wallpapers

Multitasking with two monitors doesn't necessarily mean you need to split your screens with two separate wallpapers. From beautiful to downright weird, here are our top sites for finding the best dual monitor wallpapers for you.
Web

Google Translate updated to reduce gender bias in its translations

Google is changing how Google Translate offers translations. Previously when you entered a word like doctor, Translate would offer a masculine interpretation of the word. Now, Translate will offer both masculine and feminine versions.
Web

Can Microsoft’s Airband Initiative close broadband gap for 25M Americans?

A new report from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) says that 25 million Americans do not have access to broadband internet. Of these, more than 19 million are living in rural communities. Can Microsoft help out?
Computing

Microsoft’s Chromium Edge browser may be adding your Chrome extensions

Fans sticking to Google Chrome because due to its vast extension library might be able to switch over to Microsoft's latest iteration of Edge, as a project manager confirms that the company has its eyes on Chrome extensions.