Internet companies and civil liberties groups were alarmed this spring when a U.S. Senate bill proposed handing the White House the power to disconnect private-sector computers from the Internet.
They're not much happier about a revised version that aides to Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, have spent months drafting behind closed doors. CNET News has obtained a copy of the 55-page draft of S.773 (excerpt), which still appears to permit the president to seize temporary control of private-sector networks during a so-called cybersecurity emergency.
The new version 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. Other sections of the proposal include a federal certification program for "cybersecurity professionals," and a requirement that certain computer systems and networks in the private sector be managed by people who have been awarded that license.
"I think the redraft, while improved, remains troubling due to its vagueness," said Larry Clinton, president of the Internet Security Alliance, which counts representatives of Verizon, Verisign, Nortel, and Carnegie Mellon University on its board. "It is unclear what authority Sen. Rockefeller thinks is necessary over the private sector. Unless this is clarified, we cannot properly analyze, let alone support the bill."
Representatives of other large Internet and telecommunications companies expressed concerns about the bill in a teleconference with Rockefeller's aides this week, but were not immediately available for interviews on Thursday.
A spokesman for Rockefeller also declined to comment on the record Thursday, saying that many people were unavailable because of the summer recess. A Senate source familiar with the bill compared the president's power to take control of portions of the Internet to what President Bush did when grounding all aircraft on Sept. 11, 2001. The source said that one primary concern was the electrical grid, and what would happen if it were attacked from a broadband connection.
When Rockefeller, the chairman of the Senate Commerce committee, and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) introduced the original bill in April, they claimed it was vital to protect national cybersecurity. "We must protect our critical infrastructure at all costs--from our water to our electricity, to banking, traffic lights and electronic health records," Rockefeller said.
The Rockefeller proposal plays out against a broader concern in Washington, D.C., about the government's role in cybersecurity. In May, President Obama acknowledged that the government is "not as prepared" as it should be to respond to disruptions and announced that a new cybersecurity coordinator position would be created inside the White House staff. Three months later, that post remains empty, one top cybersecurity aide has quit, and some wags have begun to wonder why a government that receives failing marks on cybersecurity should be trusted to instruct the private sector what to do.
Rockefeller's revised legislation seeks to reshuffle the way the federal government addresses the topic. It requires a "cybersecurity workforce plan" from every federal agency, a "dashboard" pilot project, measurements of hiring effectiveness, and the implementation of a "comprehensive national cybersecurity strategy" in six months--even though its mandatory legal review will take a year to complete.
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.
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." The White House is supposed to engage in "periodic mapping" of private networks deemed to be critical, and those companies "shall share" requested information with the federal government. ("Cyber" is defined as anything having to do with the Internet, telecommunications, computers, or computer networks.)
"The language has changed but it doesn't contain any real additional limits," EFF's Tien says. "It simply switches the more direct and obvious language they had originally to the more ambiguous (version)...The designation of what is a critical infrastructure system or network as far as I can tell has no specific process. There's no provision for any administrative process or review. That's where the problems seem to start. And then you have the amorphous powers that go along with it."
Translation: If your company is deemed "critical," a new set of regulations kick in involving who you can hire, what information you must disclose, and when the government would exercise control over your computers or network.
The Internet Security Alliance's Clinton adds that his group is "supportive of increased federal involvement to enhance cyber security, but we believe that the wrong approach, as embodied in this bill as introduced, will be counterproductive both from an national economic and national secuity perspective."
Showing their true colors, eh?
It seems to me reasonable to have coordinated and directed security and protections for vital infrastructure. I do not want joe bloggs in his bedroom getting into PowerStaion systems or underground rail network systems or the myriad others we rely on. I don't want Wang Fu Gnu in there either.
But the Governments have got themselves into a bind. No one trusts them. Government political scheming is bad enough but pales against its general incompetence.
When in need of a drink to Refresh the soul
Drop into the Knight & Drummer Free House.
Always leave a Comment as a tip.
Cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum
Love the Sinner but not the Sin.
“ For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against Principalities, against Powers,
against the Rulers of the Darkness of this world, against Spiritual Wickedness in high places. “
(and within ourselves)
A Feminist is a human being who has lost her way and turned vicious. If you meet one on the road as you
Go your Own Way, offer kindness but keep your sword drawn.
History Lesson folks. Look at pictures of the postures of Il Duce aka. Benito Mussolini the Italian Fascist Dicator then Obama's poses. They are dead on copies of Mussolini. Obama has a personality cult of himself. The same Narcissism as Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Fidel Castro etc. He is a classic Dictator in the making. A history professor is comparing Pre Nazi Germany to the US. There are many parallels.
The Dems are facing an unprecedented opposition at their attempt to destroy Personal Freedoms and erect a Police State. There will be bloodshed, think Mass graves and thousands dead before it is all said and done.
The Dems cannot control or contain the anger of the People. They are rejecting Obama and the Healthcare Scam en masse. In Dallas the AARP shut off the microphone when the crowd roared their anger and resentment. So far more than 66,000 Seniors have cut up their membership cards and mailed them in. Obama lied about AARP support. He is a compulsive Liar.
When you resort to beating your opponents you are inviting Civil War. MSNBC claimed a Pro Gun Black Man was white in Phoenix. They are lying scumbags and skanks for our latest panty Waist President.
Here are some facts you will not hear. The Capital flight out of the US is real. I know of 3 groups of Billionaires who have taken their money out of the US. And will not reinvest in the US until this Empty Suit Asshat is gone. The Media has finally conceded the truth. The Banks are lying about their foreclosures and are only listing one third of them.
I spoke to Lee of the Dontgetmarried board yesterday about the games California banks are playing with foreclosures. The reality is much worse. One of the leading Retail analysts is saying 200,000 retailers will close within two years. The CEO of the Private EQuity fund that acquired BankUnited. Was on CNBC and he stated there will be 1000 Bank closures in the next two years. Some think it will be 2000 Bank failures.
The TARP money and stimulus money is going to Goldman Sachs. And two trillion dollars of our money has gone to folks the Federal Reserve refuses to disclose. We should hang the Bastard Paulson and all the Fed Reserve Board and burn their corpses in Public for this outright Criminal Theft of our National Wealth.
This is nothing more than an attempt to control the information flow and stop the truth from being told. Obama is a tyrant and the Whore of Goldman Sachs. He is an empty suit devoid of conscience. He will let his own half brother live on $1 a day in shacks in Kenya. While he stays in $16,000 a night hotels in Russia. He is a disgrace and our most corrupt President since Warren G. Harding or the Drunk President Grant.
Golly, 'member when US tee vees received broadcast radio waves.
Now, "for your convenience" only "digital" signals (easily manipulated and monitored) via.
Cable and satellite (with precious few exceptions) are the "norm".
Of course, like ANY and EVERY gub'mint program, the transition was screwed up, "extended",
and had to be subsidized with tax dollars.
Tell me why again?
Oh yeah, 'member when ALL "cell" phones were "suddenly" obsolete, and had to be registered,
and be equipped with GPS tracking circuits? They are now FAR more easily "isolated and neutralized" with simple entry of numbers-on-a-keypad.
Oh yeah, 'member when an automobile wasn't entirely dependant on a 'puter to monitor, control, and RECORD it's operation? They could be inspected, repaired, and maintained, without plugging them into "The State" modem, and subject to immediate electronic shut down if everything wasn't "just right".
Oh yeah, 'member when your bank accounts couldn't be shut down with the stroke of an "enter" button, without a physical court order, signed by a judge, until all "parties" are satisfied?
Think US "Gub'mint Health Management" (ID-SS card included until other "branding" becomes more suitable "for your convieniance) might be affected like this in ANY way?
There's already existing provisions to demand financial records from ALL that MAY be eligible for the initial stages, whether you decide to "go along", or opt out and pay the fine for non participation.
Which mis-educated Liberal Democrat Facist Dupe liar is gonna' reflexively knee jerk, and call me an "Astroturf alarmist" on THAT one?
NOW, let's talk about "emergency powers" concerning what you may be restricted from removing from your private safe deposit box at ANY bank with (rapidly dwindling) FDIC "insurance", should some unelected "important" appointee from Washington say so.
Yeah, a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.
khankrumthebulgar, thumbs up for the personality analysis of Obama. I thought only I'm seeing it. If the dude doesn't do anything, by 2012 he will be worse than Bush in approval ratings. Hell, I think he will be under 30% in them by next year.
""Oh yeah, 'member when ALL "cell" phones were "suddenly" obsolete, and had to be registered""
in Australia I had to provide ID before my cell phone was connected to the grid;
and I have heard the USA monitors every coversation electonically;
it would not be hard to record the entire usage for a particular cell phone on some data base