Bill Would Give The President Control Of The Internet During a "Cybersecurity Emergency"

A revised version of a bill first introduced in the Senate this past spring would give the President power to disconnect private sector computers from the internet in the event of a "cybersecurity emergency."

The new version would allow 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.

Section 201 of the bill also seems to imply that the government can reserve the right to regulate "critical" private networks, which could include the disclosure of information.

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.

Naturally, there has been a lot of debate on both sides of the issue—some are calling the redraft unsettlingly "vague" while others insist that a bill of this nature is essential in order to protect our nation's digital infrastructure. What do you think? Is this crossing the line or should the government have the right to exercise its power over private networks? [CNET]