The U.S. Congress is considering legislation entitled Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act of 2010. There is a version in the House and Senate. The Senate’s is moving along, sponsored by Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and is cosponsored by Republican Susan Collins (R-ME). This proposed bill is intended to protect U.S. citizens from cyber attacks, but I argue that is intended to partially scare citizens and is littered with flaws.
Largely, I find Jeffrey Carr’s summary of Forbes.com to be accurate. The bill creates the “White House Office for Cyberspace Policy” and a “National Center for Cyber-security and Communications.” These agencies would be dedicated to protect the Internet in the United States. Do we really need a dedicated government office for this?
We’ve seen the expansion of security, and somewhat rightfully so. However, I would propose a reorganization of existing agencies and resources instead of expanding government. I can buy the fact that a cyber-attack threat is real and possible. However, I think that it’s more important to protect our power grid, water systems, septic systems. I would argue these are less secure than even Cyberspace.
The super-controversial piece of the legislation is that it would give the President the authority to declare a state of cyber emergency, and he could essentially pull the plug on the Internet. What good would be done by this? This is known as the “kill switch.” Have Senators Lieberman and Collins thought about the constitutionality of this?
The Internet is providing us the opportunity to have open and honest discussion. If the President shut the Internet down, I think it parallels the government (pre-Internet days) threatening to shut down newspaper articles because of the Red Scare.
Another flaw that I can see in this legislation is that this type of effort should be a worldwide effort to secure the Internet, not just a United States concern. Just like everything else in today’s world, if there would be a cyber attack in England, I’m sure there would be lasting repercussions for the U.S.
I think there are numerous flaws with this legislation. It is a long, long ways from becoming law, and debate and discussion is needed for all potential laws. However, I hope that our U.S. Senate and House don’t compromise our freedom in a poor attempt to secure cyber space.