Democratic party platform hints at executive order on cybersecurity
The party platform ratified Sept. 4 during the opening session of the Democratic National Convention has given hope to Democrats looking to President Obama to circumvent a cybersecurity legislative logjam in Congress by taking unilateral action. The platform's (.pdf) cybersecurity plank heavily hints that Obama will issue an executive order to protect government and private sector computer networks from cyber attacks.
"Going forward, the President will continue to take executive action to strengthen and update our cyber defenses," it states.
Obama has been on the receiving end of mounting pressure from Senate Democrats on the issue of cybersecurity. Last week, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, sent a letter to Obama calling on him to issue an executive order on cybersecurity arguing that "the time has come for you to use your full authority to protect the U.S. economy and the networks we depend on from future cyber attack."
Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, similarly urged Obama in early August to "explore and employ every lever of executive power that you possess to protect this country from the cyber threat."
Letters from Feinstein and Rockefeller were prompted by the fact that on Aug. 2 the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 failed to secure the 60 votes necessary to bring the measure up for a vote in the Senate after Republican opponents blocked the legislation on the grounds that it would impose burdensome government regulations on companies.
The GOP platform (.pdf) adopted at last week's Republican National Convention criticized the Obama administration for its "costly and heavy-handed regulatory approach" that will "increase the size and cost of the federal bureaucracy and harm innovation in cybersecurity." The platform further stated: "We believe that companies should be free from legal and regulatory barriers that prevent or deter them from voluntarily sharing cyberthreat information with their government partners."
Greg Slabodkin is a freelance reporter.