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Cybersecurity bill would give president emergency powers

The draft bill would give the president the power to shut down industries or impose measures to combat the cybersecurity threat, according to Reuters, which obtained a copy of the draft.

The emergency declaration would last 30 days, unless the president renews it, but it could not last more than 90 days without congressional action.

The draft is a combination of cybersecurity bills that were merged at the urging of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nv.). "It (the draft bill) is something that we hope to be able to pass before the end of the year, if we can", Reid spokeswoman Regan Lachapelle told Reuters.

One of the merged cybersecuity bills was introduced by Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-Ct.) in June. That bill contained the provision about the presidential emergency declaration.

The Lieberman cybersecurity bill would also establish an Office of Cyber Policy within the executive branch while creating a director position responsible for advising the president in establishing national cybersecurity policy. It would also set up a new National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications (NCCC) within the Department of Homeland Security, led by a separate director who would enforce cybersecurity policies throughout the government and the private sector.

Authority for implementation of the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) would be transferred to the NCCC from the Office of Management and Budget. The bill would also use the government’s bulk purchasing power to enforce cybersecurity standards for the software purchased from third-party vendors.

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