White House Releases Proposed Cyber Security Legislation — Critics Are Underwhelmed

On May 12, 2011, the White House forwarded proposed cyber security legislation to Congress.  The complete statement from the White House is below.  The Associated Press notes that various legislative committees have waited two years for this.  The AP also quotes Stewart Baker, former General Counsel of the National Security Agency: "The Administration's proposal shows no sense of urgency. …It tells even critical industries on which our lives and society depend that they will have years before anyone from government begins to evaluate their security measures."

I hope to write more on this tomorrow.  The proposal opens with amending Title 18, United States Code, Section 1030(a) (The Computer Fraud & Abuse Act) to add a consecutive penalty of three years imprisonment if an offense under the statute involves a "critical infrastructure computer."  It is hard to see how a three year enhancement would deter hackers other than kids acting for sport.  In addition, of course, attribution of an unauthorized access under the statute can be very difficult, and obtaining jurisdiction over a non-U.S. perpetrator is problematic, too.  But, more on that as soon as I have the time.

The White House Blog

The Administration Unveils its Cybersecurity Legislative Proposal

Posted by Howard A. Schmidt on May 12, 2011 at 02:00 PM EDT

Today I am happy to announce that the Administration has transmitted a cybersecurity legislative proposal to Capitol Hill in response to Congress’ call for assistance on how best to address the cybersecurity needs of our Nation.  This is a milestone in our national effort to ensure secure and reliable networks for Americans, businesses, and government; fundamentally, this proposal strikes a critical balance between maintaining the government’s role and providing industry with the capacity to innovatively tackle threats to national cybersecurity.  Just as importantly, it does so while providing a robust framework to protect civil liberties and privacy.

When the President released his Cyberspace Policy Review (pdf) almost two years ago, he declared cyberspace as a key strategic asset for the United States and its security just as vital.  This legislative proposal is the latest achievement in the steady stream of progress we are making in securing cyberspace and completes another near-term action item (pdf) identified in the Cyberspace Policy Review.

The Administration proposal helps safeguard your personal data and enhances your right to know when it has been compromised.  In addition to educating you on how to protect yourself from cyber threats with the Stop. Think. Connect. campaign, we believe organizations should inform you when your sensitive personal information may have been compromised.  This notice not only helps you to protect yourself against harms like identity theft, but also incentivizes organizations to have better data security in the first place.  Today, our country has a patchwork of 47 state notification laws.  Our proposal simplifies and strengthens this reporting requirement and reaches all Americans.

It helps protect our national security by addressing threats to our power grids, water systems, and other critical infrastructure.  These systems are the backbone of our modern economy; many are privately owned, but all merit our support in protecting them.  The Administration proposal advances the security of our increasingly “wired” critical infrastructure, strengthens the criminal penalties for hacking into the systems that control these vital resources, and clarifies the ability of companies and the government to voluntarily share information about cybersecurity threats and incidents in a privacy-protective manner.  This is behavior we want and need to promote.

It helps the U.S. government protect our federal networks, while creating stronger privacy and civil liberties protections that keep pace with technology.  Since our Federal systems are under constant pressure by hackers, criminals and other threats, the government needs better tools to detect and prevent those threats.  Part of cybersecurity is about finding malicious programs, and stopping their spread before they have any impact.  This proposal allows the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to implement intrusion detection and prevention systems that can help speed our response to these incidents.  The Administration proposal also designs a framework for protecting privacy and civil liberties that includes new oversight, reporting requirements, and annual certification to ensure that cybersecurity technologies are used for their intended purpose and nothing more.

The Administration’s proposal is one of a number of important steps we are taking towards achieving better cybersecurity.  We look forward to working with Congress as it moves forward on this issue.  Together, with a shared responsibility to enhance online safety and security, we can ensure cyberspace continues to be an area defined by growth and innovation.

Howard A. Schmidt is the Cybersecurity Coordinator and Special Assistant to the President

 

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One Response to “White House Releases Proposed Cyber Security Legislation — Critics Are Underwhelmed”

  1. wcs says:

    NPR has an audio file and transcript of its 5/12/11 coverage of this event at http://www.npr.org/2011/05/12/136250408/obama-lays-out-cybersecurity-plan?ft=1&f=1122 .

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Authors

Untitled Document
Professor William Snyder

Professor William C. Snyderis a member of the faculty of the Institute for National Security and Counter-terrorism at Syracuse University after fifteen years with the United States Department of Justice.

Ryan D. White

Ryan D. WhiteRyan is currently a third year law student at Syracuse University College of Law, and is also pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree from Syracuse’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Ryan spent time with Homeland Security Investigations while pursuing his undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University, and spent his first summer of law school as clerk for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of New York. He is a member of Syracuse Law Review, the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and participates in the Veteran’s Legal Clinic. Full biography

Shelby E. Mann

Ryan D. WhiteShelby is a second year law student at the Syracuse University College of Law. She is the 2018-9 Editor in Chief of the Syracuse Law Review, as well as a member of the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and the senior editor for the Syrian Accountability Project. During her final year at the University of Missouri, she served as a full-time news producer for ABC 17 News. Shelby spent her first summer of law school at the Shelby County District Attorney General's Office in Memphis, Tenn., in the Public Corruption and Economic Crimes Unit. Full biography

Christopher w. FolkChristopher W. Folk

is a 2017 graduate of SU College of Law. A non-traditional student, Christopher returned to academia after spending nearly twenty years in the high tech industry. Christopher served in the Marine Corps, graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. In Applied Economics and Business Management, attended Northeastern University’s High-Tech MBA Program and received a M.S. In Computer Information Systems. Christopher previously worked in Software Engineering. Christopher is currently serving his second term as Town Justice for the Town of Waterloo. Christopher externed with a Cybersecurity firm in the Washington, D.C. area between his first and second year at SU College of Law. Full biography

Anna Maria Castillo

Anna Maria Castillois 2016 graduate of Syracuse College of Law. She also holds a Master of Arts in International Relations from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. She has interned at a London-based think-tank that specializes in transnational terrorism and global security and at the legal department of a defense contractor. She served as an executive editor in the Syracuse Law Review. Full biography

Jennifer A. CamilloJennifer A. Camillo

is a 2015 graduate of Syracuse College of Law and is a prosecutor. She has served as a law clerk in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York and the Cayuga County District Attorney’s Office and as an extern in the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office. She was a member of the Syracuse National Trial Team and was awarded the Tiffany Cup by the New York Bar Association for her trial advocacy achievements.

Tara J. PistoreseTara J. Pistorese

holds Juris Doctor and Masters of Public Administration degrees from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and its College of Law. She wrote for this blog when a student. She is now a member of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps.

Benjamin Zaiser

is both a scholar and a Federal Agent of the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany. (Opinions expressed here are his own and not any part of official duty.) Full biography

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