Cybersecurity and Privacy: Three Federal Proposals

Vol. 8 No. 3

Kerry L. Childe is Senior Privacy and Regulatory Counsel for the Texas Guaranteed Student Loan Corporation in Round Rock, Texas.

As people spend more and more time online, and as electronic storage increases from terabytes to petabytes; moves from local to cloud-based; and becomes cheaper, faster, and easier to use; cybersecurity becomes increasingly important. Businesses and government collect—and individuals voluntarily provide—vast amounts of information, whether personal or commercial, confidential or public, in order to make twenty-first century tools and industry function.

It is crucial to consider, however, exactly why cybersecurity is important. Cybersecurity is not in itself an end; it is the means to an end, which is protection of whatever information is collected. Cybersecurity is important in the national security context because it is necessary to protect our infrastructure and our citizens. It is important in the business context because it is necessary to protect the information business maintains about business, including information about customers and potential customers. And it is important in the personal context because it is necessary to protect ourselves as individuals from financial or personal harm. Security is the “how,” not the “why.”

For individuals, control of personal information is usually the “why.” Consider the regularly recurring outcry about Facebook’s use of the information provided through its service by users.  This concern has less to do with whether Facebook’s technical processes are secure—there is no allegation that Facebook’s servers suffered a security breach, for example—than it does with whether Facebook is being fair and a reliable custodian of individual data.

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