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Bill to Give President Emergency Power of Internet Raises Concerns
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August 28, 2009

Bill to Give President Emergency Power of Internet Raises Concerns

By Amy Tierney, TMCnet Web Editor

Officials from Internet companies and civil liberties groups said they still have concerns about a proposed U.S. Senate bill that would give the president the authority to disconnect private-sector computers from the Internet.
According to CNET, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-West Virginia, revised an earlier version of the bill, which now said the president can "declare a cyber security emergency" relating to "non-governmental" computer networks and do anything necessary to respond to the threat.

The proposal also includes a federal certification program for "cyber security professionals," and a requirement that certain computer systems and networks in the private sector be managed by people who receive that license, CNET said.
Yet, industry official don’t appear too pleased with the latest version, which of an excerpt is available here.
“I think the redraft, while improved, remains troubling due to its vagueness," said Larry Clinton, president of the Internet Security Alliance, told CNET "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 bill."
Representatives of other large Internet and telecommunications companies expressed concerns about the bill in a teleconference with Rockefeller's aides this week, CNET reported. One Senate source familiar with the bill likened the president's power to take over portions of the Internet to what President Bush did when he grounded aircrafts on Sept. 11, 2001, CNET said. Reportedly, the source said that one primary concern was the electrical grid, and what would happen if it were attacked from a broadband connection.
The original intent of the bill, as proposed in April by Rockefeller and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), was to protect national cyber security.
“We must protect our critical infrastructure at all costs – from our water to our electricity, to banking, traffic lights and electronic health records – the list goes on,” Rockefeller said at the time. “It’s an understatement to say that cyber security is one of the most important issues we face; the increasingly connected nature of our lives only amplifies our vulnerability to cyber attacks and we must act now.”
As cyber security continues to be one of the major national security problems facing the U.S., President Obama has made protecting the country’s digital infrastructure a top priority for his administration, TMCnet reported.
In related news, the Raytheon (News - Alert) Company has partnered with the University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Information Assurance and Security in an effort to research and develop new and innovative cyber security solutions. Under the partnership, Raytheon will provide funding during the next 10 years for CIAS faculty working on computer security and information assurance projects.

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Amy Tierney is a Web editor for TMCnet, covering unified communications, telepresence, IP communications industry trends and mobile technologies. To read more of Amy's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Amy Tierney

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