United States President Obama is widely expected to enact an executive order on the issue of cybersecurity following his State of the Union address next week. That in mind, one of his key advisers on the topic today downplayed the potential impact of the action, pointing to legislation for Congress as the only real solution.

The Hill’s Hillicon Valley blog collected quotes today from a keynote address given by Andy Ozment, a cybersecurity chief at the White House, on the coming order. Most key among the verbiage was the pronouncement that “it’s worth highlighting that an executive order is not magical,” Ozment said, continuing that “[i]t doesn’t create new power or authorities for any government agency.”

He went on to call it a non-substitute for new law. The impending order is somewhat late. It had been expected by the end of 2012. Instead, however, the issue was pushed back for reasons unknown.

TNW has written extensively on drafts of the order itself, but it is not known how close the final version will hew to the leaked copies. I suspect that those early editions were simply trial balloons to ensure that if enacted, the President would not receive a SOPA-esque backlash from the Internet community, privacy activists, and exceptionally wealthy technology companies.

Still, it is interesting to see expectations management of this sort, so early. The State of the Union will likely include comments on this issue – why else announce after, and given the recent attacks on American media, it is extra fitting – which will help place it in context. The White House wants the grounds fresh, but not overly thirsty, it appears, for the planting of its order.

CISPA will return this year. The contentious House bill that passed in a whirlwind is being retooled with input from the Obama administration. If it has a chance of launching back through the House, and then finding any sort of reception in the Senate remains an open question. For now, we have to wait. The President will set the tone during his address, and the issue will proceed from there.

Top Image Credit: Mark Skrobola