On the Obama cybersecurity bill

On June 28, 2010, in General, by Neil Stevens

So, the Cybersecurity bill is back, fully formed as the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act (PCNAA). When I first highlighted the bill in August of 2009, I summarized it like so:

S. 773, a bill by West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller, Democrat, would create new “emergency” powers for the President, a ‘cybersecurity’ Enabling Act of sorts, that would give the President the authority broad powers over any “non-governmental” computer networks, whether public or private, that are declared by the President to be “critical.”

These powers extend beyond declared emergencies, however. Rockefeller’s bill would immediately grant the ability of the government to control hiring and firing of jobs related to these so-called critical networks, because the President could unilaterally declare that jobs related to those networks would be required to be filled by people certified to the task by the government. And much like with the car dealerships, the Obama administration is fully expected to use its power to favor political allies for these jobs by granting or denying certification depending on your level of donations to Obama for America or the Democratic National Committee.

Yeah, so it’s back. Some parts of it may seem harmless, or even beneficial, such as the part highlighted by the good people at Bayshore Networks that seems to amount to an online Real ID act. But such things, if we want them, can and should be achieved without all the baggage associated with them.

Because you see: the emergency powers sought by the Democrats and the White House not only amount to a huge power grab over private computers that is unprecedented online, but the purported goal still won’t be achieved. The bill is as overbearing in its means as it is impractical in its ends.

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