Hat tip: Venture Beat
April 15th, 2009
Legislation is now passing through the U.S. Senate that could give the president unprecedented powers over the Internet, including the ability to ’shut down’ portions of it when a cybersecurity emergency is declared. The bill was introduced at the beginning of the month, but concerns have since been raised over its vague wording.
At issue is Section 18(2) of the Cybersecurity Act of 2009, which reads as follows:
“The president … may declare a cybersecurity emergency and order the limitation or shutdown of Internet traffic to and from any compromised Federal Government or United States critical infrastructure information system or network.”
At face value, the legislation, introduced by West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller, seems aimed at protecting sensitive government data and infrastructure, such as electrical grids and the like. Rockefeller makes his case by presenting a litany of findings indicating how vulnerable we are to cyber threats. Among them, Congressional studies that found an attack on a major financial institution could severely impact the economy, and attacks on systems controlling our power grid could “have the potential to disrupt services for hours or weeks.”
However, the bill offers no definition for what may be considered “United States critical infrastructure.”