To give the government new regulatory powers to protect the United States against cyber attacks, a top Federal Communications Commission (FCC) official has endorsed the Cybersecurity Act, a bill authored by Senators Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine). According to a post on The Hill’s technology blog Hillicon Valley, James Barnett, chief of the FCC's Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, said during a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Communications and Technology that “he supports the regulatory provisions of the Cybersecurity Act.”
The blogger Brendan Sasso wrote, “Legislation would give the Homeland Security Department the power to require that critical systems such as electrical grids, meet minimum cyber security standards.” As per the blog, Barnett made the comment in response to questioning from Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.). Another official to support the Act was Fiona Alexander, an associate administrator at the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
In the post, Sasso added that Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) and other Republicans have criticized the Lieberman-Collins bill, saying it would create new bureaucracy and burden businesses. In fact, as per the blog, McCain and other Republicans have introduced their own cyber security bill, coined the “Secure It Act.” It focuses on promoting information sharing about cyber threats between the private sector and the government and recommends tough penalties for cyber crimes.
The Secure It Act was just introduced in the House on Tuesday by Representatives Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.). During Wednesday's hearing, “Bono Mack argued that the government should be a facilitator, not a regulator of cyber security,” wrote Sasso.
However, as per the blog post, supporters of the Lieberman-Collins bill are warning that without minimum standards for critical systems, the country is at risk of suffering a catastrophic cyber attack. “The White House has endorsed the Lieberman-Collins bill and has warned Congress to not resort to half-measures to beef up cyber security,” wrote Sasso.
Edited by Jamie Epstein