Obama Executive Order May Establish Cybersecurity Guidelines
President Barack Obama pets Bo, the Obama family dog, in the Oval Office, June 21, 2012.
CREDIT: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
After Senate Republicans blocked a cybersecurity bill last month, citing concerns over potential new regulations, the White House has begun circulating the draft of an executive order that would accomplish many of the same things.
The Cybersecurity Act of 2012, aimed at bringing conformity to computer security standards among companies that operate the nation's critical infrastructure, was opposed by Republicans on the grounds that it would place unfair restrictions on private businesses as they sought to comply.
The would-be law also met opposition from civil-liberties groups concerned about the close relationship the law could establish between the government and commercial online networks.
The draft of the executive order, like the bill, seeks to set up a program in which companies agree to meet security standards that will be established, in part, by the government.
That provision was one of the major holdups that prevented Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who introduced the legislation, from gaining enough Republican support.
People familiar with the draft told The Hill that the executive order would seek to set up a council within the Department of Homeland Security with members from the departments of Defense, Commerce, Justice and the intelligence office.
Based on the draft, if the executive order were to be signed into law as it reads now, it would provide federal agencies with the ability to propose new and broaden existing regulations. It has been shared with some federal agencies to allow for feedback and suggested changes.
From the White House's point of view, swift measures are needed to shore up network security for the nation's water supply, power grid, financial markets and transportation networks — something a deadlocked Congress has failed to do.
After the Cybersecurity Act failed on Aug. 2 in a 52-46 vote (the act needed 60 to pass), Lieberman took to Twitter: "#Cybersecurity is an issue that I thought would overcome politically-driven & special-interest driven ideas, but that hasn’t happened."