US senators have drafted legislation that would give the government control over private networks.
It would have the authority to shut down or limit traffic on private networks during emergencies and establish a set of cybersecurity standards that would be imposed on the government and the private sector.
The bill is currently being co-sponsored by the Senate Commerce Committee chairman John Rockefeller IV and Senator Olympia Snowe, though it has been criticised for giving the government too much control over the internet.
Gregory Nojeim, senior counsel at the centre for democracy and technology, said: “This gives the president too much power and there's too little oversight, if there's any at all. It gives him the power to act in the interest of national security, a vague term that has been broadly defined. It applies to any critical infrastructure, surely, the internet is one.”
Further, a second bill, also co-sponsored by Rockefeller and Snowe, would establish and appoint a national cybersecurity advisor who would report directly to the president. The national cybersecurity adviser would serve as the lead official on all US computer security matters, coordinating with the intelligence community, as well as civilian agencies.