recommended reading

Rockefeller seeks to reassure on cybersecurity bill

Senate Commerce Chairman John (Jay) Rockefeller, D-W.Va., Thursday attempted to assuage industry concerns over the scope of his panel's cybersecurity bill, saying the legislation does not seek to give the government new emergency powers or the authority to dictate business operations.

"Let me be very clear: When it comes to cybersecurity, the familiar 'regulation versus leave-it-to-the-market' debate that always dominates discussions between the government and the private sector is a dangerous false choice," Rockefeller said in his written remarks at the Business Software Alliance's 2010 Cybersecurity Forum.

"The government cannot do this on its own, and neither can the private sector. This has been demonstrated and proven."

Rockefeller defended the bill he wrote with Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, as striking a balance between government and business interests. The bill was introduced last year but an updated, reworked version was released and approved by his committee in March.

"We have worked closely with you and other stakeholders to refine the language," Rockefeller told industry officials. "In case there is any remaining confusion, let me be clear: This bill does not create any new emergency powers for the president or anyone else in government. It simply requires all key players to get together ahead of a crisis and prepare."

He noted that the bill seeks to give companies incentives to adopt good cybersecurity practices. The government could compel companies that fail to do so to adopt remediation plans.

"I know some groups have had concerns about these proposals. But here's the truth: the government will not be choosing winners and losers, nor will it be laying down arbitrary standards from on high," Rockefeller said.

The Business Software Alliance, Information Technology Industry Council and TechAmerica have raised concerns about some provisions included in the legislation, such as requiring companies to comply with cybersecurity practices identified by the National Institute for Standards and Technology. Rockefeller noted that some business groups also have criticized language in the bill that would require an audit of a company's security plan.

"I think we can all agree that effective cybersecurity simply is not possible without a reliable mechanism to evaluate performance. We have yet to be presented with a viable alternative," he said. "So, we have built on the audit-based framework already used by many in the private sector. We expect that if the private sector takes the lead as laid out in our bill, the standards and certification will be flexible and dynamic, not bureaucratic and burdensome."

He encouraged industry to continue giving lawmakers their best ideas as the bill works its way through other committees and to the Senate floor.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.