Bill would create State Department cyberambassador

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Two Democratic senators on Monday introduced a bill that would create a State Department position to coordinate cybersecurity efforts with other countries.

The International Cyberspace and Cybersecurity Coordination Act of 2010, offered up by Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, would create the role of senior coordinator at the State Department. This person would carry the rank of ambassador at large and serve as the principal adviser on international cyber issues to the secretary of state.

In addition, the bill seeks to develop an agreed-upon "multilateral framework" that provides standards for global cyberwarfare mitigation.

“We must do everything we can to forestall the possibility of cyberwarfare and create a multilateral framework that will persuade countries to cooperate on pressing cyber issues," Kerry said. "This bill is the first step to better organize U.S. efforts to develop a coordinated strategic approach to international cyberspace and cybersecurity issues by designating a single diplomat responsible for U.S. cyber policy overseas.”

Cris Paden, a spokesman for Symantec's government affairs team, said the legislation is a positive step, especially as broadband and mobile device adoption spreads to countries that traditionally have lagged from a technology perspective. They now will become targets, he said.

"It's about getting everybody on the same page," Paden told SCMagazineUS.com on Tuesday. "There are some countries that don't have any laws on the books that pertain to cybercrimes. There are some countries that don't have the law enforcement resources to investigate and pursuit cyber incidents."

The bill complements a law proposed by Gillibrand last month. The International Cybercrime Reporting and Cooperation Act, co-introduced by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, would require the president to annually report to Congress on countries where there is evidence of cybercriminal activity directed against the United States coinciding with limited law enforcement investigations and prosecutions of such actions.

Meanwhile, a similar bill is circulating in the U.S. House. The Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2009 would support cybersecurity research and development and advance the creation of international cybersecurity standards.

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