The days of an open, largely unregulated Internet may soon come to an end. A bill making its way through Congress proposes to give the U.S. government authority over all networks considered part of the nation's critical infrastructure. Under the proposed Cybersecurity Act of 2009, the president would have the authority to shut down Internet traffic to protect national security. The government also would have access to digital data from a vast array of industries including banking, telecommunications and energy. A second bill, meanwhile, would create a national cybersecurity adviser -- commonly referred to as the cybersecurity czar -- within the White House to coordinate strategy with a wide range of federal agencies involved.
The bill would allow the government to create a detailed set of standards for cybersecurity, as well as take over the process of certifying IT technicians. But many in the technology sector say the government is simply ill-equipped to get involved at the technical level, said Franck Journoud, a policy analyst with the Business Software Alliance.