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White House Unveils Cybersecurity Legislative Agenda

The White House proposed Thursday reforming the Federal Information Security Management Act by formalizing the Department of Homeland Security role in managing cybersecurity for the federal government's civilian computers and networks.

What the Obama administration does not propose is the establishment of an Office of Cyberspace with a Senate confirmed director in the White House, as proposed in a number of bills before Congress.

In addition, the proposal would give DHS more flexibility in hiring cybersecurity professionals and permit the government and business to temporarily exchange experts, so that both can learn from each others' expertise.

The comprehensive proposal, outlined in a White House blog, also calls for a federal data breach notification law and criminal penalties for cybercrimes. Besides establishing a new framework aimed at protecting individuals' privacy and civil liberties, the White House proposal also would codify practices that allows DHS to help states and businesses respond to cyberattacks and provides immunity to organizations that share cybersecurity information with DHS.

Cloud computing gets a boast from the proposal; the White House seeks to prevent states from requiring companies to build their data centers in that state, except where expressly authorized by federal law, so not to cripple a new industry by protectionist measures.

"Taken together, these requirements create a new framework of privacy and civil liberties protection designed expressly to address the challenges of cybersecurity," a White House statement says.

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