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White House confirms forthcoming cybersecurity executive order

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The Obama Administration confirmed in a Sept. 12 letter to Congress that it will in fact issue an executive order on cybersecurity. The announcement comes following rumors that the White House was circulating a draft order to federal agencies the week of Sept. 4 and requests from legislators resigned to the fact that the 112th Congress will not pass "meaningful" cybersecurity legislation this year.

The letter (.pdf) from John Brennan, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, was published by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on Sept. 14.

The White House will be unable to achieve all of the goals laid out in cybersecurity legislation with an executive order, said Brennan, who added that action from Congress is still needed.

"Comprehensive legislation remains essential to improve the cybersecurity of the nation's core critical infrastructure, to facilitate cyber information sharing between the government and the private sector, to strengthen and clarify the existing patchwork of authorities regarding federal network security, and to protect the privacy and civil liberties of American people," wrote Brennan.

According to the letter, the White House order will direct departments and agencies to "secure our nation's critical infrastructure by working with the private sector."

However, Brennan writes that an executive order lacks the legal authority to protect companies that engage in information sharing on cyber threats.

For more:
- download the letter (.pdf)

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