March 22, 2009
Forthcoming legislation would wrest cybersecurity responsibilities from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and transfer them to the White House, a proposed move that likely will draw objections from industry groups and some conservatives.
CNET News has obtained a summary of a proposal from Senators Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) that would create an Office of the National Cybersecurity Advisor, part of the Executive Office of the President. That office would receive the power to disconnect, if it believes they’re at risk of a cyberattack, “critical” computer networks from the Internet.
“I regard this as a profoundly and deeply troubling problem to which we are not paying much attention,” Rockefeller said a hearing this week, referring to cybersecurity.
Giving the White House cybersecurity responsibility was one of the top recommendations of a commission that produced a report last year to advise President Obama on cybersecurity issues. However, the Homeland Security Department, which currently has jurisdiction over cybersecurity, has insisted the reshuffling of duties is not needed.
Given the enormity of cybersecurity threats, the responsibility is a natural fit for the White House, said James Lewis, a director and senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, which issued last year’s commission report.