President Barack Obama's administration recently unveiled its proposed cybersecurity plan which will, so administration officials say, protect personal privacy and the nation's computer infrastructure.
Here's the plan, according to the White House:
• There are lots of laws already in place state-to-state to help consumers and business owners protect themselves against identity theft. These laws require businesses to notify consumers if there is a data breach. The new proposal will help businesses by standardizing 47 state laws that include this requirement.
• Laws for computer criminals aren't strict enough, according to administration officials. The proposal clarifies penalties for cyber crimes, and sets mandatory minimum punishments.
• The plan will offer federal assistance to private sector companies, state or local governments that suffer a data breach, as well as clarifying what type of assistance the Department of Homeland Security can offer.
• The proposed plan makes it clear that entities that learn of new computer viruses or other threats can report this information to the federal government, while making sure that the shared information does not impinge on individual privacy and civil liberties.
• The plan emphasizes transparency to help keep the nation's critical infrastructure, as well as those who operate it, accountable for the cybersecurity of that infrastructure.
• The plan makes provision for the federal government to recruit and retain employees who are qualified to keep the infrastructure safe, and to permit the government and private industry to tap into each others' expertise.
• The proposed plan would make permanent the Department of Homeland Security's authority to oversee intrusion prevention systems in order to protect government computers.
The proposal states that it will ensure the protection of individuals' privacy and civil liberties through a "framework designed to expressly address the challenges of cybersecurity."
Administration officials say the plan is a work in progress, and that it would clarify the government's role in protecting the nation's infrastructure, and that it favors public/private cooperation over regulation.
The biggest negative of the plan is that it doesn't address the president's authority to intervene during a cyber emergency. But White House officials say the president already has sufficient emergency authority to act under existing rules.
The biggest positive is the federal data breach notification requirement when personal information held by companies is exposed. It would replace the patchwork of 47 state notification laws, and builds on the best elements of those laws.