Sen. John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) have released a new draft of proposed legislation that aims to create a formal agency within the executive branch dedicated to combating Internet crime, espionage and attacks.
A previous version of the bill was rejected, on a combination of privacy concerns and worry that the bill gave the president too much power to interfere with, and control, the Internet.
The bill directs the new cybersecurity czar to coordinate with other government agencies to craft plans, procedures and rules for protecting against cyber attacks. It gives the office the power to actually shut down networks – both public and private – to protect against cyber attacks.
The new version of the bill was designed to address those concerns. If the president were to exercise this power, he would have to report to Congress within 48 hours why the measure was taken.
“The networks that American families and businesses rely on for basic day-to-day activities are being hacked and attacked every day. At this very moment, sophisticated cyber enemies are trying to steal our identities, our money, our business innovations and our national security secrets,” according to Rockefeller. “This 21st-century threat calls for a robust 21st-century response from our government, our private sector and our citizens. Private companies and the government must work together to protect our nation, our networks and our way of life from the growing cyber threat.”
The National Cable & Telecommunications Association appears to be the first organization from the communications industry to indicate initial support for the new version.
NCTA President and CEO Kyle McSlarrow issued a statement on the legislation: “We applaud Senators Rockefeller and Snowe for moving ahead on legislation to address the critical security of our nation's cyber networks. This legislation will help government and private-sector networks to work together in identifying critical infrastructure and developing cyber emergency response plans. As information is increasingly transmitted via the Internet, combating cyber threats is critical to safeguarding our nation's broadband future. Passage of the Rockefeller-Snowe Cybersecurity Act is a necessary and important step in protecting our national infrastructure, and we look forward to working together with the committee as this bill moves forward.”