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Cybersecurity Act Nixes Presidential Shutdown Power

March 18, 2010

New proposed cybersecurity legislation, designed to help the government police the Internet while easing concerns some in the tech community had about an earlier version of the bill, was introduced in the Senate on Wednesday.

The Rockefeller-Snowe Cybersecurity Act, which was co-sponsored by West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller and Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, “provides a framework for engagement and collaboration between the private sector and government on cybersecurity, while protecting civil liberties, proprietary rights, and confidential and classified information,” according to a press statement posted online on Snowe’s senate.gov website.

Furthermore, the media release states that the bill will “Significantly raise the priority of cybersecurity throughout the federal government and streamline cybersecurity-related government functions, authorities and laws”¦ Protect civil liberties, intellectual property and business proprietary information”¦ Promote cybersecurity public awareness, education, and research and development”¦ [And] foster market-driven cybersecurity innovation and creativity to develop long-term technology solutions and train the next generation of cybersecurity professionals.”

The proposed law would allow the President to appoint a Senate-confirmed national online security advisor to oversee cybersecurity issues in both defense-related and civilian areas. Unlike a previous proposal, however, the Commander-in-Chief would no longer be able to unilaterally declare a national emergency and shut down all access to the Internet.

“Private companies and the government must work together to protect our nation, our networks and our way of life from the growing cyber threat,” Rockefeller, a Democrat who has been serving in the Senate since 1985, told the AFP in a March 17 article.

“The networks that American families and businesses rely on for basic day-to-day activities are being hacked and attacked every day,” he added. “At this very moment, sophisticated cyber enemies are trying to steal our identities, our money, our business innovations, and our national security secrets”¦ This 21st century threat calls for a robust 21st century response from our government, our private sector and our citizens.”

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