5 ways to fight back against Chinese cyber attacks

But would they work?

The Midwest as seen from the International Space Station: To prevent cyber attacks, the U.S. could build an electronic wall around the country.
(Image credit: NASA)

The debate over the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act is largely a debate about how Congress will allocate authorities and powers to fight against Chinese cyber-espionage, which siphons off from the U.S. economy as much as $100 billion a year in intellectual property and proprietary information. CISPA is controversial because it vaguely defines what a "cyber threat" actually is, immunizes U.S. companies who share personal information with the government, lacks oversight mechanisms to prevent abuse by the government, and militarizes what is, in essence, a law enforcement function — an FBI and Department of Homeland Security function.

That latter objection is based on the Obama administration's intention to fight Chinese crime using a variety of different mechanisms. Importantly, it wants to determine how to fight — it does not want Congress to tell them how and when cyber information must be shared between private companies, the FBI, the CIA or the National Security Agency. Still, the White House has not explicitly said that President Obama won't allow some version of CIPSA to reach his desk. It has said that personal privacy is not well-protected by CIPSA, but traditionally, the executive branch has used this excuse as a fig-leaf to cover their opposition for other reasons.

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Marc Ambinder

Marc Ambinder is TheWeek.com's editor-at-large. He is the author, with D.B. Grady, of The Command and Deep State: Inside the Government Secrecy Industry. Marc is also a contributing editor for The Atlantic and GQ. Formerly, he served as White House correspondent for National Journal, chief political consultant for CBS News, and politics editor at The Atlantic. Marc is a 2001 graduate of Harvard. He is married to Michael Park, a corporate strategy consultant, and lives in Los Angeles.