Jay Rockefeller's Nutty Cyberlaw

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Sen. Rockefeller, you probably mean well but this is wrong and just gives fodder to the super-loons out there.

CNET News has obtained a copy of the 55-page draft (excerpt), which still appears to permit the president to seize temporary control of private sector networks during a so-called cybersecurity emergency.

The new version allows the president to "declare a cybersecurity emergency" relating to "non-governmental" computer networks and do what's necessary to respond to the threat. Other sections of the proposal include a federal certification program for "cybersecurity professionals," and a requirement that certain computer systems and networks in the private sector be managed by people who have been awarded that license.

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Probably the most controversial language begins in Section 201, which permits the president to "direct the national response to the cyber threat" if necessary for "the national defense and security." The White House is supposed to engage in "periodic mapping" of private networks deemed to be critical, and those companies "shall share" requested information with the federal government. ("Cyber" is defined as anything having to do with the Internet, telecommunications, computers, or computer networks.)

"The language has changed but it doesn't contain any real additional limits," EFF's Tien says. "It simply switches the more direct and obvious language they had originally to the more ambiguous (version)... The designation of what is a critical infrastructure system or network as far as I can tell has no specific process. There's no provision for any administrative process or review. That's where the problems seem to start. And then you have the amorphous powers that go along with it."

This is just an ill-defined power grab, and it grants powers I wouldn't want to see in the hands of Barack Obama (who I trust) or George W. Bush (who I don't).