Homeland Security’s Napolitano invokes 9/11 to push for CISPA 2.0

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.(Reuters / Baz Ratner)

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.(Reuters / Baz Ratner)

In an attempt to scare the public with a looming cyber attack on US infrastructure, US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is once again pushing Congress to pass legislation allowing the government to have greater control over the Internet.

Napolitano issued the warnings Thursday, claiming that inaction could result in a “cyber 9/11” attack that could knock out water, electricity and gas, causing destruction similar to that left behind by Hurricane Sandy.

Napolitano said that in order to prevent such an attack, Congress must pass legislation that gives the US government greater access to the Internet and cybersecurity information from the private sector. Such a bill, known as CISPA or  Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, was already introduced last year, but failed to pass in Congress due to concerns expressed by businesses and privacy advocates.

“We shouldn’t wait until there is a 9/11 in the cyber world. There are things we can and should be doing right now that, if not prevent, would mitigate the extent of the damage,”Napolitano said in a speech at the Wilson Center, a Washington, DC think tank.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has also been a strong advocate for increased governmental grip on the web and in October warned that the US is facing a possible“cyber-Pearl Harbor” by foreign hackers.

“A cyber attack perpetuated by nation states or violent extremist groups could be as destructive as the terrorist attack of 9/11,” he said during a speech. “Such a destructive cyber terrorist attack could paralyze the nation.”

Last September, Napolitano reiterated disappointment with Congress for failing to pass the cybersecurity legislation in August.

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