White House Authoring New Cybersecurity Bill Granting Expanded Powers to DHS

18/04/2011 18:06

WFED is reporting that the Obama administration is preparing legislation that would codify the DHS' expanding authority to oversee cybersecurity.  An mp3 of the report can be downloaded here.

The proposed legislation would incorporate the Administration's July 6, 2010 OMB memo, which "clarified" DHS' cybersecurity role, with recent cybersecurity proposals by Sens. Joseph Lieberman, Susan Collins and Tom Carper.

Although the final form of the proposed legislation has not been released to the public, it is rumoured to include the following key provisions:

1.  Make the White House the central point for all cybersecurity across the government;

2.  Give DHS many, if not all, of the same authorities for the .gov networks that the Defense Department has for the .mil networks;

3.  Establish a National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications in DHS;

4.  Place a Senate-confirmed director in charge of the National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications, who would regularly advise the President;

5.  Allow DHS to take over the OMB's authority for the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA);

6.  Grant DHS primary responsibility over operational aspects of IT security in agencies except for national security and DOD systems;

7.  Give DHS responsibility for cyber-related procurements;

8.  Expand the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act to increase infractions related to cyber crime and the corresponding penalties.

There is also a leaked section of the proposal called the "Google provision," which prevents State laws from requiring a data center business to locate itself in a particular State in order to benefit from State funding.  The provision reportedly states:

Prohibition, no law, rule, regulation or order or other administrative action of any state or political subdivision shall require a business entity to house a data center in such state or political subdivision there of as a condition to certify, licensure or approval in relating to operation of such entity.

The 100-page bill is currently going through a review process within executive agencies, but it is not clear when the White House will finalize it and send it to Congress for review.  Given the DHS' recent track record, I am certain that any expanded authority for the agency will be greeted with skepticism and concern by both legislators and the public.

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