13 Jul 2011

McCain calls for special computer security committee

Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona has called upon Senate leaders to establish a select committee to oversee cybersecurity.

In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, McCain praised the working groups Reid convened to tackle computer security legislation, but warned this approach is inadequate given the scope of the issue.

McCain said seven Senate committees currently claim some manner of jurisdiction related to cybersecurity, and he said members of these groups need to sacrifice some power by acceding to a smaller select committee, modeled on the Joint Atomic Energy Committee. He wrote this more centralized team could operate more effectively to safeguard the country's computer networks and prevent another incident like WikiLeaks.

McCain noted many other government bodies, including the Defense, Commerce and Energy Departments, have all proposed computer security protocols, and he said the Senate has to provide leadership from Capital Hill.

After the House of Representatives recently created a 12-person cybersecurity task force, Representative Jim Langevin, a Democrat from Rhode Island, objected that all the members were Republicans and accused House leadership of politicizing the issue of computer security.