As the speculation that President Obama will issue an executive order on cybersecurity continues to grow, a draft of the order has reportedly been leaked and is raising concern over potential regulations.

According to the Associated Press, which obtained a copy of the draft E.O., the Obama administration is planning to issue new guidelines to protect the nation’s networks from looming cyber attacks.

Under the draft order, the government “would create a new critical infrastructure cybersecurity council, which would be run by the Homeland Security Department and include representatives from the departments of defense, justice and commerce, and national intelligence office,” according to the AP.

The draft order calls for the private sector to “collaborate with the cybersecurity council and also cooperate with NIST in the development of cybersecurity guidance,” the AP noted.

But ahead of the president’s reported plans to issue the executive order, ranking Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Commerce Committee and the Intelligence Committee have stepped up to advise against the E.O.

In an op-ed published by the Wall Street Journal, Sens. John McCain (Ariz.), Kay Bailey Hutchinson (Texas) and Saxby Chambliss (Ga.) warned that an executive order on cybersecurity would put strains on the private sector and stifle innovation.

“That’s the wrong solution because it cannot fully address the one area most critical to improving cybersecurity—enhancing the sharing of cyber-threat information among private firms and with the government,” the senators wrote. “This cooperation and flexibility is critical and should be encouraged, not disrupted by adding new layers of bureaucracy at the Department of Homeland Security.”

“Unilateral action in the form of government mandates on the private sector creates an adversarial relationship instead of a cooperative one,” the trio went on to advise.

But despite the three senators’ suggestions for more congressional debates, one of their colleagues, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), indicated that cybersecurity has hit a wall on Capitol Hill.

“Negotiations are going on, but the fact is they haven’t made much progress,” Lieberman told the National Journal. “Nobody thinks we’re going to take it up in this two-week period. I’m still hopeful we’ll get some agreement to go forward in the lame-duck session.”

Meanwhile, the New York Times has also offered up its stance on cybersecurity. In an editorial titled “A New Kind of Warfare,” the Times noted that state-sponsored cyber attacks and espionage have prompted military units across the globe to invest in cybersecurity and cyber defense.

“The United States, China, Russia, Britain and Israel began developing basic cyberattack capabilities at least a decade ago and are still figuring out how to integrate them into their military operations,” wrote the Times, further suggesting the U.S. “still hasn’t figured out what impact cyberweapons could have on actual battlefield operations or when an aggressive cyber response is required.”

“What’s clearly needed are new international understandings about what constitutes cyber aggression and how governments should respond. Meanwhile, the United States must do what it can to protect its own networks.”

For the latter part of the Times’ cyber statements, it seems President Obama is onboard.


Michelle Kincaid is a DC-based public affairs professional specializing in technology policy. She is also founder of the blog  Follow her on Twitter at @OnCybersecurity.

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Michelle Kincaid is a DC-based public affairs professional specializing in technology policy. She is creator of the blog