President Barack Obama is expected to sign an executive order today to create new standards related to what private-sector companies must do to protect their computer systems from a cybersecurity breach.
The prospect of a cybersecurity executive order being on the horizon was raised last year when, due to outcry from Internet privacy groups, Congress refused to pass the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). The bill was criticized by privacy advocates because it created a government/private sector information pipeline and broadly defined information that could be snooped by government agencies with the help of service providers as “information directly pertaining to a vulnerability of, or threat to a system or network.”
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney confirmed this week that the President will now work unilaterally to implement cybersecurity provisions similar to CISPA, but he didn’t give any details.
“It represents a huge challenge for our country. He has called on Congress to take action. Unfortunately, Congress has thus far refused legislatively,” he said at a press briefing with reporters. “But I don’t have any previews to provide.”
A draft executive order that is similar in nature to the original CISPA bill, however, details what the President likely has in mind. Hyped as a “voluntary” effort with a public/private partnership and cooperation, the measure charges government regulators with the following:
- Determine what pre-existing authority they have to regulate cybersecurity.
- Create a “prioritized… set of actions” that should be taken to “mitigate or remediate identified cybersecurity risks.”
- Finally, regulators “are encouraged to propose regulations… based on such set of prioritized actions.”
Obama is expected to increasingly use his executive authority to circumvent Congress on a number of other policy issues during the remaining years of his Presidency. This has conservative Americans like Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) fearing the President has developed a “king complex.” Last month, Paul proposed the Separation of Powers Restoration and Second Amendment Protection Act of 2013 in response to Obama’s 23 executive actions on gun control. The Act would nullify anything the President does that resembles legislation. The Act refers to Article I of the Constitution, which states, “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States.”