The government apparently wants to formalize a power that already exists:
Internet companies and civil liberties groups were alarmed this spring when a U.S. Senate bill proposed handing the White House the power to disconnect private-sector computers from the Internet.
They’re not much happier about a revised version that aides to Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, have spent months drafting behind closed doors. CNET News has obtained a copy of the 55-page draft of S.773 (excerpt), which still appears to permit the president to seize temporary control of private-sector networks during a so-called 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.
So not only would the president be able to assume control over the Internet during a crisis (a power I alluded to in The God Conspiracy), the government would be able to dictate hiring practices and information that must be shared to companies deemed “critical”, as well as taking control of their computers and networks.
It doesn’t make me feel better to hear that the president already has this power, and that “the purpose of this language is to clarify how the president directs the public-private response to a crisis”.