Lawmakers praise Obama on cybersecurity approach

Reaction to speech and 60-day report is widely positive

Several senior lawmakers on Friday applauded President Barack Obama’s plans to improve cybersecurity.

As reported at FCW.com, Obama announced plans to create a lead cybersecurity policy position in his administration that would be responsible for coordinating cybersecurity efforts. In a speech in which he discussed the results of his administration’s 60-day review of cybersecurity policy, the president also said the country’s digital infrastructure would be treated “as a strategic national asset.”

Here are some highlights from statements released by lawmakers:

  • Sens. John “Jay” Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, and Olympia Snowe (R- Maine), said in a joint statement that they applaud the president “for highlighting the extraordinarily serious issue of cybersecurity.”

The pair also urged Obama to move forward in a manner consistent with comprehensive cybersecurity legislation they introduced in April. Their legislation would – among other things – consolidate the leadership of federal cybersecurity programs in a new advisory office at the White House and mandate new enforceable cybersecurity standards for the public and private sectors, and a licensing and certification program for cybersecurity professionals.

“Our bipartisan legislation, The Cybersecurity Act of 2009, is a roadmap to a secure cyber future – one that effectively brings public and private together,” they said.

  • Sen. Thomas Carper (D-Del.), who introduced cybersecurity legislation in April that would also – among other things – establish a top cybersecurity official at the White House and reform the federal information technology procurement process, commended Obama. Carper, chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security Subcommittee, said the results of the 60-day review were in line with many of the provisions included in hislegislation.

"President Obama's recommendations along with my cyber security legislation will help institutionalize necessary security practices and measures that will enhance our nation's cyber security posture, and focus our efforts on effectively defending our critical networks," Carper said.

  • Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, called the Obama administration’s cybersecurity review “thoughtful” and said he agreed with many of its findings.

“I plan to work closely with the administration to improve our nation’s cybersecurity posture,” he said. “The president’s decision to address this issue sends a clear message to our adversaries that the United States will no longer tolerate attacks against our federal or critical infrastructure networks, and we are prepared to defend these networks by all means necessary.”

  • Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), the ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said he saw Obama’s action on cybersecurity as a “very positive step.”

“As we go forward, we have to make sure that all of the federal departments and agencies are properly coordinated in their cybersecurity efforts,” King said.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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