Bill would give president emergency control of Internet

Bill would give president emergency control of Internet
Bill would give president emergency control of Internet 

By Declan McCullagh
Politics and Law 
August 28, 2009

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 

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 


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