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New draft cybersecurity law: US Senate hits ctrl-alt-del, reboot

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The US Senate has started circulating a revised draft cyber-security law following failed attempts to pass a similar bill last term.

The proposed dictum, produced by the committee for commerce, science and transportation and backed by committee head Jay Rockefeller (D, W Va) and ranking member John Thune (R, SD), is another try at setting up voluntary computer security standards for critical industries.

Specifically, the paperwork calls on the president to "[enhance] the security and resiliency of public and private communications and information networks against cyber attack by nation-states, terrorists, and cyber criminals". It also demands more research and development in computer security defences, more sharing of software vulnerability information, more done to tackle identity theft, and you get the gist.

Rockefeller is expecting the draft act to be debated by the committee later this month, sources told The Hill blog and Reuters.

The proposed cyber-law follows President Obama's executive order last year that compelled federal agencies to develop guidelines for safeguarding power, water and other critical infrastructure from hackers. The new bill asks the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to come up with a similar set of voluntary standards and best practices.

Previous iterations of the bill were held up by Senate Republicans, who didn't like a provision that would have given the Department of Homeland Security the authority to enforce mandatory electronic security standards. Rockefeller and other backers said making the standards mandatory was necessary to thwart hackers, but the Republicans saw it as unnecessary overregulation.

Rockefeller's bill is part of a raft of legislation that's moving through various government bodies in different parts, after the single comprehensive bill brought to the Senate in Obama's previous term failed to get through. ®

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