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Senate Passes Cybersecurity Bill

The Senate Wednesday re-introduced a cybersecurity bill it considered last year, having removed a key provision that—in the event of a major cyberattack—would have allowed the president to shut down the Internet. Co-sponsores, Senators Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), aimed the Cybersecurity Act, S. 773, at protecting critical United States network infrastructure against cybersecurity threats by fostering collaboration between the private sector and the federal government to maintain that infrastructure.

The legislation was originally introduced last April as a two-bill package that called for the creation of a national cybersecurity adviser, and was aimed to revise cybersecurity processes and oversight in government, facilitate public-private partnerships on keeping computer systems safe, fund cybersecurity research, and encourage the hiring of more cybersecurity specialists.

Companion legislation that would create the national cybersecurity adviser position—the National Cybersecurity Advisor Act, S.778—is still pending before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs. The new Cybersecurity Act more or less maintains the goals of the original bill, but also has some key differences. The biggest change is that the president no longer would have the power to disconnect networks from the Internet unilaterally in the event of a major cyber attack.

Currently, the bill requires the president to work with organizations that own critical network infrastructure to produce cybersecurity emergency response plans rather than act on his own. Other provisions in the bill cover which IT systems are most important and how to secure them and requires the president to grant security clearances to some private sector employees. Because this bill has been introduced so late it is unlikely to be passed this legislative session.

Read More at The Washington Post.


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