Americans are divided over government role in critical infrastructure cybersecurity

 46% of Americans said they believe an information exchange between companies and the government is justified if it helps thwart cyberattacks, even if it could encroach on personal privacy
46% of Americans said they believe an information exchange between companies and the government is justified if it helps thwart cyberattacks, even if it could encroach on personal privacy

There is only limited support for government cybersecurity mandates, but there is not widespread support for a laissez-faire approach either, the newspaper noted.

According to the Washington Post poll, 39% of Americans favor government mandates, 28% said government should encourage but not require mandates, and 26% said government should stay out of the issue altogether.

The Senate is considering the Cybersecurity Act, which includes cybersecurity mandates for private sector owners of critical infrastructure. Most Senate Republicans oppose mandates, favoring private sector incentives instead.

In addition, Americans are divided about whether Congress should pass a law – such as the House-passed Cyber Information Sharing and Protection Act – making it easier for the government and private sector to exchange information about cybersecurity threats if the data exchange involves content from people’s emails and internet surfing.

Based on the poll, 46% of Americans said they believe an information exchange between companies and the government is justified if it helps thwart cyberattacks, even if it could encroach on personal privacy; 43% said information exchange is not justified. If such law includes privacy protections, support jumps to 65% for an information exchange system.

The poll found that most people worry more about getting a computer virus and having their financial information stolen than they do about someone reading their emails or knowing what websites they have visited. But about a third of Americans are concerned about those issues as well.

Around 40% of Americans think it is unlikely that a major cyberattack will hit the government or industry in the next year. This percentage has not changed much over the past decade despite experts' warnings that the threat of such an attack has grown, the newspaper noted.

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