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Bill Would Federalize Cybersecurity

Bill Would Federalize Cybersecurity
Bill Would Federalize Cybersecurity 

By Joby Warrick and Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writers
April 1, 2009 

Key lawmakers are pushing to dramatically escalate U.S. defenses against 
cyberattacks, crafting proposals that would empower the government to 
set and enforce security standards for private industry for the first 

The proposals, in Senate legislation that could be introduced as early 
as today, would broaden the focus of the government's cybersecurity 
efforts to include not only military networks but also private systems 
that control essentials such as electricity and water distribution. At 
the same time, the bill would add regulatory teeth to ensure industry 
compliance with the rules, congressional officials familiar with the 
plan said yesterday.

Addressing what intelligence officials describe as a gaping 
vulnerability, the legislation also calls for the appointment of a White 
House cybersecurity "czar" with unprecedented authority to shut down 
computer networks, including private ones, if a cyberattack is underway, 
the officials said.

How industry groups will respond is unclear. Jim Dempsey, vice president 
for public policy at the Center for Democracy and Technology, which 
represents private companies and civil liberties advocates, said that 
mandatory standards have long been the "third rail of cybersecurity 
policy." Dempsey said regulation could also stifle creativity by forcing 
companies to adopt a uniform approach.


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