President Obama is set announce an executive order to direct greater sharing of information about cybersecurity threats between large companies and the federal government, according to a report by Reuters.
The executive order would be a part of the administration’s response to attacks on Sony Pictures, Anthem, and other U.S. companies that have had their digital infrastructure compromised. According to unnamed administration officials quoted by Reuters, it would encourage sharing between those companies and the federal government, but would not relieve them from liability for sharing.
Ideally, the president would want Congress to pass a bill that encourages such information sharing and removes liability, but legislators are gridlocked along party lines. What’s more, major tech companies are unlikely to throw their weight behind a bill unless it contains reforms on the U.S.’s digital surveillance practices. Between those two factors, legislation is unlikely to pass, which means that the President will go his own way.
The news comes ahead of a day-long cybersecurity conference at Stanford University, which will include an address from the President. Apple CEO Tim Cook will be speaking at the event, but the chief executives of Google, Facebook and Yahoo are all staying away and sending lower-level executives in their place. The snubs are the result of the aforementioned tensions over surveillance.
That said, at least some of those executives are expected to have a private meeting with the President on Friday, where they will once again push for surveillance reform.