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Bill seeks closer public-private cybersecurity cooperation

NEWS
Bill seeks closer public-private cybersecurity cooperation

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

••• Two US senators introduced legislation Wednesday seeking a closer partnership between the government and the private sector on cybersecurity.

“Private companies and the government must work together to protect our nation, our networks and our way of life from the growing cyber threat,” said Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, a sponsor of the bill.

“The networks that American families and businesses rely on for basic day-to-day activities are being hacked and attacked every day,” Rockefeller said in a statement.

“At this very moment, sophisticated cyber enemies are trying to steal our identities, our money, our business innovations, and our national security secrets,” he said. “This 21st century threat calls for a robust 21st century response from our government, our private sector and our citizens.”

The Cybersecurity Act is a new draft of a bill introduced last year and was revised to take into account the views of more cybersecurity experts in the private sector, government and civil liberties community.

The bill would not allow the president to shut down the Internet unilaterally — a revision to address critics of the prior bill who claimed it would provide that authority.

The proposal would require collaboration with the private sector in responding to a “cybersecurity emergency.”

A “cybersecurity emergency” is defined as “a cyber event that is equivalent to an act of war, a terrorist attack, or a major natural disaster.”

Another new provision in the bill would allow the president to provide security clearances to private sector officials to allow for the sharing of classified information.

Republican Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine, the cosponsor, said the bill “seeks to bring new high-level governmental attention to developing a fully integrated, thoroughly coordinated public-private partnership.”

A companion bill to the Cybersecurity Act calls for the creation of a post of National Cybersecurity Adviser at the White House which would require Senate confirmation.

President Barack Obama has cited cybersecurity as a national priority and named Howard Schmidt, a former Microsoft executive, as his cybsersecurity coordinator in December.

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