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In most American households the internet has quickly become the source of news, information, and in some cases, communication. So, the bill introduced by John Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat and Republican Olympia Snowe from Maine is surprising because it gives the ultimate authority over the U.S. internet infrastructure to the President, allowing him to turn off access if need be. There is certainly a need for control when a virus or DDoS attack threatens government systems but the vague language of the bill appears to give more control than necessary.

The purpose of a Denial of Service attack is to take a website down by overwhelming it with [fake] traffic. If the government’s intent is to prevent such take downs by simply unplugging the website, then they are fulfilling the goal of the attack, even if it is by proxy. Sure, there are other reasons to take a site or portion of the internet down, as in the case of viruses being programmed to steal important data off of government machines, but the take down should be limited in scope. By painting with a wide brush the writer’s of this bill have given too much power to a single person, rather than focusing on addressing threats, it lays out triage techniques to combat the issue.

There is more in the bill as well, including starting a scholarship program for Federal IT workers. You can read the bill in its entirety below.

0402 Rockefeller Cyber Security Bill

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  1. April 27, 2009

    At a minimum the bill is too vague and will likely undogo several pretty drastic changes before it goes to vote. There are several points in there that I won’t bother to argue that will never make it to actual legislation because they are impractical and ridiculous. I’m no fan of our current administration or Congress, and I’m the first to point out how socialist and collectivist they are. However, all of these online rants about how Obama is going to shut down the internet and make the internet a state-controlled medium is a bit too ‘chicken little’ for me.

    Isn’t the federal network already managed and regulated by a team of super qualified IT professionals? I guess my real concern isn’t if this bill is too vague, but if it is necessary at all. The creation of a new panel and comically named Internet Czar that report directly to the internet seem less threatening than frivolous. If we already have people doing this job and handling our nation’s cyber security, why fix what isn’t broken?

    Let’s see how the revisions go and if the sky is actually falling.

  2. April 28, 2009

    I have the same question about the need for such an agency, though there is no single government entity monitoring the U.S. network, it is handled by the CIA, FBI, NSA, and military branches.

    For me, there is not a necessity to protect the integrity of the public’s internet. Sure, the government should protect it’s assets but by building such vague language into the bill, they open it up so that the entire network could be turned off in a national “emergency”.

    A good, middle-of-the-road compromise would be an entity that handles all of the data from the intelligence agencies and reports to the President. That’s all we really need. There is no need for a singular person in a poorly titled position to do this.

  3. April 29, 2009

    I’m certainly on board for government agency accountability.

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