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Report: Senate Bill Would Create Powerful 'Cybersecurity Czar'

Two powerful senators want to centralize federal cybersecurity under a White House-appointed "czar" who'd oversee not only all government networks, including military ones, but also private networks deemed crucial to national security, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.

The bill being crafted by Sens. Olympia Snowe, D-Maine and Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., would also create new regulations and standards for private networks related to infrastructure, such as rail, water and power systems.

"People say this is a military or intelligence concern, but it's a lot more than that," Rockefeller told the Post. "It suddenly gets into the realm of traffic lights and rail networks and water and electricity."

The cybersecurity czar — officially the National Cybersecurity Adviser — would be so powerful he or she could shut down entire networks, even private ones, in the event of a cyberattack.

The Post reports the legislation was written with White House input, and may be introduced in the Senate as early as Wednesday.

One private industry advocate told the Post he feared the bill would stifle innovation and flexibility, noting that mandatory standards had until now been the "third rail of cybersecurity policy."

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