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June 22, 2011

ISPs May Be Subject to Federal Oversight Under White House Cybersecurity Plan

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor

If the White House gets it way with a new proposed cybersecurity law, a number of organizations would become subject to federal oversight: something that's not likely to make too many of them very happy.

The Washington blog The Hill quotes a cybersecurity official from the Department of Homeland Security, who reports that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) would probably end up on the list of new entities that will be overseen by federal cybersecurity agencies and regulation.

At a hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, Greg Schaffer, Homeland Security Acting Deputy Undersecretary, said that under the White House's proposed plan, private ISPs would be classified as part of “critical infrastructure” and would therefore be subject to federal security standards.

Schaffer said that the Obama administration's legislative proposal doesn't explicitly state which industries would be deemed “critical” and “core critical infrastructure,” but witnesses at the hearing yesterday revealed that transportation, financial services, utilities and healthcare providers are all among the sectors that could be included, said The Hill.

“Subpanel Chairman Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) noted that ISPs are in a unique position to know when consumers' computers are under attack or have been enslaved by malicious botnets. He suggested ISPs should take action against infected devices in the event consumers are not aware of the breach,” said the blog.


Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves
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