The bad guys who troll America’s digital infrastructure looking for networks to attack may have some problems coming their way if a proposed bill circulating through Capitol Hill goes through. The legislation would give the president the power to declare a national cyber-emergency if a huge network attack happened.
Reuters reported Tuesday, Sept. 21, that the presidential declaration, in case of an imminent threat to critical things like the electrical grid or water supply, could require companies to shut down temporarily or take certain steps, like enhancing their cyber-defenses. The declaration would last for 30 days, though the president could renew it, it couldn’t go longer than 90 days without congressional action.
The legislation in its current form merges two other cyber-security bills that came before. A spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said backers in Congress hope to pass it before year’s end.
Some companies worry the bill would give the government too much power over their businesses, since it could give the public sector power to designate whether a company’s — or industry’s — technology operations would be shut down or altered, or just certain portions. Private-sector opposition could make it difficult for the bill to get through Congress before the year is over.