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Lawmakers Strike New Tone With Proposed Cybersecurity Bill

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U.S. President Barack Obama

The revised Senate cybersecurity bill still includes language that gives President Obama the authority to direct responses to cyber attacks and declare a cyber emergency.

Credit: The Baltimore Sun

The second draft of a U.S. Senate cybersecurity bill scales back language that would give the president the ability to shut down the Internet in an emergency. The bill, first introduced in April by Sen. John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), would give the president the authority to direct responses to cyberattacks and declare a cyberemergency. The bill also would give the president 180 days to implement a cybersecurity strategy after the passage of the bill.

The language of the first draft of the bill, which is still in Rockefeller's Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, was rewritten regarding the president's authority to shut down both public and private networks, including Internet traffic involving compromised systems. Critics say that giving the president widespread power over the Internet is dangerous as private networks could be shutdown by government order, and those same networks could become subject to government-mandated security standards and technical configurations. The second draft contains more detailed language concerning the president's control over computer networks, and removes some language referencing the Internet.

The new bill qualifies the president's authority to include "strategic national interests involving compromised federal government or United States critical infrastructure information system or network," and says the president may direct the national response to cyberthreats by coordinating with "relevant industry sectors."

From Network World
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