It’s fairly common knowledge that the Obama administration has been crafting an executive order to address cybersecurity for quite some time now. The only thing we didn’t know was when such an order would be made public, but a new report is pegging the announcement for this week.
Speaking to The Hill, sources close to the White House said that senior officials will announce Obama’s long in development cybersecurity mandate on Wednesday. The order will reportedly establish a voluntary program where “companies operating critical infrastructure would elect to meet cybersecurity best practices and standards crafted, in part, by the government.”
The order will be announced at an event that is due to take place that U.S. Department of Commerce. In attendance will be a who’s who of major cybersecurity proponents, including White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Michael Daniel, Department of Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Jane Lute, and National Security Director Gen. Keith Alexander. You can expect some, or all, of them to talk about the grave threat our nation faces from cyberattacks from China and the like, and how this executive order will better protect our aging infrastructure from cyberattacks.
Of course, members of Congress aren’t going to like it. They’re going to push for their own extensive cybersecurity legislation to replace whatever Obama’s administration cooks up. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers was already planning to reintroduce CISPA this week, but the executive order may force his hand in pushing the reviled legislation through the House even faster than before. Doing so would once again block all meaningful discussion on the privacy concerns present in the bill in favor of just pushing something through.
Of course, the Senate will probably not like it either, and may very well introduce its own cybersecurity legislation as well. It may choose to vote on CISPA, if it passes the house, but the Senate may very well choose to go its own way once again by crafting its own legislation. If it does, we may very well end up with a situation just like last year where neither legislative branch can come up with anything, thus justifying the executive order.
The Hill’s report doesn’t have any concrete details on what the executive order will entail, but we should probably prepare for the worst. Despite talking up a good game as a proponent on online privacy, President Obama has recently signed worrisome, and privacy infringing, legislation like the FISA extension into law.
We’ll keep our ear to the ground to let you know when, and if, a cybersecurity executive order is announced, and what it entails.