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Sharing details of hacks not anti-trust violation

by on11 April 2014

US has to reassure businesses

The US government is on a campaign to reassure corporates that they will not face anti-trust penalties if they share information on hacks. The new push comes as many top retailers and other companies have suffered major data breaches.

James Cole, the number two official at the U.S. Justice Department, told reporters in a briefing on new guidance the agency issued along with the Federal Trade Commission that if companies do not discuss competitive information such as pricing or output when sharing cybersecurity details, they will not conflict with antitrust laws. It is not clear how sharing data on your systems being attack could represent any anti-trust action, but apparently, some companies were concerned.

“This is an antitrust no-brainer: Companies who engage in properly designed cyberthreat information sharing will not run afoul of the antitrust laws,” said Bill Baer, the assistant attorney general in charge of the DOJ’s Antitrust Division. “This means that as long as companies don’t discuss competitive information such as pricing and output when sharing cybersecurity information, they’re OK.”

Michael Daniel, cybersecurity coordinator at the U.S. White House wrote in his blog that in today’s networked world, a cyberthreat to one is really a cyberthreat to all. “This is why steps such as today’s announcement that can encourage more information sharing are key to building up our collective cybersecurity,” he added.

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