Is the U.S. House of Representatives getting ready to apply the heavy hand of government regulation to cyberspace? That's the concern in some quarters over reports that a handful of Republicans on the House Homeland Security Committee are getting ready to join with their Democratic colleagues in pushing for a new government program to protect so-called critical infrastructure that is similar to a much-maligned cybersecurity bill currently under debate in the U.S. Senate.
If they get their way it would, say those that follow the issue, be a dramatic increase in the federal government's size and reach that would be very costly and impede the development of new technologies.
The complaints center on a section of the Senate bill that addresses "covered critical infrastructure." The bill directs the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to identify critical infrastructure sectors where "damage or unauthorized access to that system or asset could result in" the following:
It's an extraordinarily broad definition, one that involves the entire economy that, critics say, would give bureaucrats the ability to reach into every sector of it and impose new rules in what would amount to a de facto mandate by the department.
It is impossible to believe that the government could move fast enough to keep pace with innovations in cyberspace. The Internet moves too quickly, and the government, by design, moves too slowly. It would produce the worst of all possible outcomes: no innovation, huge costs, and no guarantee that any of it makes cyberspace more secure. Hopefully the Republicans on the Homeland Security Committee will come to their senses and reject the idea that a new cyber-bureaucracy is the answer to the security challenges the Internet currently faces.