Following the controversial passage of CISPA in the House, and the failure of progress on the issue of cybersecurity in the Senate, talk began that the President might act through executive action.
The Press Secretary mentioned that the President would “do absolutely everything we can to better protect our nation against today’s cyber threats.” Later, calls by other’s on the Hill pushed for similar action. Following the collapse of progress in Congress, sans action by the President, cybersecurity is a moot issue, legally, until 2013.
The dangers loom, however, all parties agree.
According to a number of publications, there is a 5 page draft of an executive order out in the capitol, soliciting feedback. The Hill has it in the hands “relevant federal agencies.” According to its report, the order will put into place a ‘voluntary program’ in which companies whose work involves so call critical infrastructure would “elect to meet cybersecurity best practices.”
Interestingly, The Hill states that the standards will only be partially written by the government.
The order goes further. According to the Washington Post, a “special council” composed of government assets would work to uncover ‘threats’ potentially damaging to infrastructure usually deemed as ‘critical.’ Think of the power grid, water systems, and the like.
It’s important to note that what is being discussed in this executive order is milksop compared to the bill that Sen. Lieberman previously crafted, and the President endorsed. At one point, standards were mandatory, and not voluntary. That tenet was dropped in negotiations that ended up fruitless.
What’s the chance that the President does issue such an order as the one under discussion? Sen. Feinstein, member of his party, has spoken strongly in favor of the move previously: “I believe the time has come for you to use your full authority to protect the U.S. economy.”
However, the action is far from certain. Caitlin Hayden, White House spokesperson, told the Post that “an Executive Order is [bold: TNW]: “among the things we’re considering to fulfill the president’s direction to us to do absolutely everything we can to better protect our nation against today’s cyberthreats.”
It’s hard to gauge how much momentum, let alone Congressional support, the order has, but the corpse of cybersecurity progress may yet be twitching.
Top Image Credit: Zoe Rudisill