S. 413: Cybersecurity and Internet Freedom Act of 2011
On February 17, 2011, Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Tom Carper (D-DE) introduced the Cybersecurity and Internet Freedom Act of 2011, a comprehensive cybersecurity protection bill. Nearly identical to S. 3480 from last Congress, S. 413 would establish a new Office of Cyberspace Policy within the Executive Office of the President to coordinate and oversee federal policies and activities on cybersecurity and resiliency in conjunction with a new National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications within DHS. The new office would be charged with protecting the computer systems of the nation’s critical infrastructure, prioritizing national cybersecurity strategies, and encouraging information-sharing relevant to cyber threats. S. 413 would authorize the President, using the least disruptive means feasible, to declare cyber emergencies, requiring “covered critical infrastructures” (i.e., systems and assets that could cause “national or regional catastrophic effects” if disrupted or destroyed) to implement mitigation plans. Unlike its predecessor, S. 413 adds additional protections explicitly preventing the President from shutting down the Internet, and allows for an owner or operator to challenge its designation as “covered critical infrastructure” in federal court.
In her floor statement, Senator Collins made it clear that she intends for the bill’s emergency measures apply only to the nation’s most critical infrastructure in a precise way. Covered critical infrastructures would include the electric power grid, telecommunications networks, financial systems, or other systems that could cause a “national or regional catastrophe” if disrupted. In determining this, the bill directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to consider whether the disruption would cause: a mass casualty event including an extraordinary number of fatalities (more than 2,500); severe economic consequences (greater than $25 billion in first-year losses); mass evacuations with a prolonged absence (greater than one month); or severe degradation of national security capabilities, including intelligence and defense functions.
Status: S. 413 has been referred to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.