The , introduced April 1, would require U.S. President Barack Obama to develop a national cybersecurity strategy, create cybersecurity standards that some private companies would have to follow, and allow the president to shut off Internet traffic to compromised federal and privately held networks that are part of the U.S. critical infrastructure.
Those provisions of the bill raise major concerns with TechAmerica, a giant trade group that represents a wide range of technology companies, Phil Bond, president of the organization, said Monday. There are parts of the bill TechAmerica supports, but giving federal officials the power to shut down private networks may be going too far, he said.
Granting such authority "requires a whole lot of discussion," Bond said. "It gives us great pause to think a federal official would be able to shut down a private network."
The bill, introduced by Senators Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, and Olympia Snowe, a Maine Republican, also gives new cybersecurity authority to the U.S. Department of Commerce, when some of that authority already exists elsewhere, said Liesyl Franz, vice president of information security program and global public policy at TechAmerica. The bill would give the agency power to license and certify cybersecurity professionals, and TechAmerica has questions about how that would operate, she said.
The bill's authors have indicated the legislation is a starting point for discussion, and TechAmerica will engage in that discussion, Bond said. Instead of new cybersecurity mandates, the government and other groups need to do more education about why private companies should invest in cybersecurity, TechAmerica officials said.