President Obama announced May 29 that he will appoint a federal cybersecurity officer. The position will coordinate the nation’s efforts to protect government and private computer networks.
The creation of the position was recommended in a new “Cyberspace Policy Review” document commissioned by the White House, which was posted at whitehouse.gov. The document spells out a 10-point plan for improving data security. Among the other recommendations are:

  • prepare a national strategy to secure the information and communications infrastructure;
  • designate cybersecurity as one of the president’s key management priorities and establish performance metrics; and
  • build a cybersecurity-based identity management vision and strategy that addresses the privacy and civil liberties interests.

In describing the need for a comprehensive federal cybersecurity strategy, Melissa Hathaway, cybersecurity chief at the National Security Council said in a statement that computer networks “deliver power and water to our households and businesses, enable us to access our bank accounts from almost any city in the world, and they are transforming the way our doctors provide health care. For all these reasons, we need a safe Internet with a strong network infrastructure and we as a nation need to take prompt action to protect cyberspace for what we use it for today and will need in the future.”
The policy review document states: “The architecture of the nation’s digital infrastructure, based largely on the Internet, is not secure or resilient. Without major advances in the security of these systems or significant change in how they are constructed or operated, it is doubtful that the United States can protect itself from the growing threat of cybercrime and state-sponsored intrusions and operations.”
Responding to plans for a federal cybersecurity officer, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a public policy group that says it’s dedicated to “limited government,” argues that the position should focus solely on government security issues and not regulation of private networks. “Government regulation to address private sector cybersecurity practices is premature,” the group contends.

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