Cybersecurity Act Being Revisited by Congress

The revised Cybersecurity Act of 2009, the work of Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), gives Pres. Barack Obama unequalled power over both public and private computer networks in case of a national emergency.

Probably the most controversial language begins in Section 201, which permits the president to “direct the national response to the cyber threat” if necessary for “the national defense and security.”

Committee spokeswoman Jena Longo says the bill “will not empower a government shutdown or takeover of the Internet, and any suggestion otherwise is misleading and false.”

The act would allow the president to “declare a cybersecurity emergency” relating to “non-governmental” computer networks and do what’s necessary to respond to the threat.

“I think the redraft, while improved, remains troubling due to its vagueness,” says Larry Clinton, president of the Internet Security Alliance. “Unless this is clarified, we cannot properly analyze, let alone support the bill.”

The privacy implications of sweeping changes implemented before the legal review is finished worry Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco. “As soon as you’re saying that the federal government is going to be exercising this kind of power over private networks, it’s going to be a really big issue,” he says.

The revised Cybersecurity Act of 2009, the work of Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), gives Pres. Barack Obama unequalled power over both public and private computer networks in case of a national emergency.

Probably the most controversial language begins in Section 201, which permits the president to “direct the national response to the cyber threat” if necessary for “the national defense and security.”

Committee spokeswoman Jena Longo says the bill “will not empower a government shutdown or takeover of the Internet, and any suggestion otherwise is misleading and false.”

The act would allow the president to “declare a cybersecurity emergency” relating to “non-governmental” computer networks and do what’s necessary to respond to the threat.

“I think the redraft, while improved, remains troubling due to its vagueness,” says Larry Clinton, president of the Internet Security Alliance. “Unless this is clarified, we cannot properly analyze, let alone support the bill.”

The privacy implications of sweeping changes implemented before the legal review is finished worry Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco. “As soon as you’re saying that the federal government is going to be exercising this kind of power over private networks, it’s going to be a really big issue,” he says.

Leave a reply