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Submission + - Why Congress Hacked Up a Bill to Stop Hackers ( 1

SternisheFan writes: On March 7, 2012, the Obama administration staged a mock cyberattack on the U.S. In a classified briefing for senators in the Capitol, FBI Director Robert Mueller, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, and other officials imagined a shutdown of New York City’s power grid that resulted in scores of deaths and billions of dollars in losses. Think Hurricane Sandy’s blackouts, only spread to all of Manhattan and the boroughs. At the time, lawmakers were fighting over an administration-backed bill that would require the computer systems that control utilities, chemical plants, oil pipelines, and other “critical infrastructure” to be hardened against sabotage by hackers and foreign spies. Under the bill, the government would also share secret information about digital espionage with corporations that store sensitive data, helping them to protect against China and other governments that target U.S. industrial research and financial records. The U.S. is ill-equipped to cope with an Internet assault on the computers that undergird much of the economy, and no federal agency has the authority to compel companies to protect themselves. The bill, called the Cybersecurity Act of 2012, was intended to fix that—and the White House believed the mock attack would underscore its urgency.
    Several senators said they were rattled by the presentation, according to a White House official who was there. Others dismissed it as hype. Either way, it wasn’t enough to close the deal. After a long summer of tense negotiations, the bill died in August. Republicans rejected it as a government power grab that would create another intrusive federal bureaucracy. Corporate and power-industry lobbyists argued it would cost businesses billions to meet the new standards, with no assurance that they’d be effective. Even Democrats who supported the bill privately conceded it couldn’t specify exactly what the regulations would require and how much they would cost. “Based on my experience, very few people on the Hill get this,” says Shawn Henry, who stepped down as executive assistant director of the FBI in April. “You can’t see it, touch it, or taste it, so it’s somehow not real.”

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Why Congress Hacked Up a Bill to Stop Hackers

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  • The Cybersecurity Act *was* a government power grab. Just because the problem is real doesn't make the proposed solution mild, limited and cautious.

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