The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman, Tom Wheeler, has outlined future plans for dealing with cyber security which essentially involve getting the private sector to do the heavy lifting.
Wheeler, who is currently walking a controversial net neutrality path, would prefer if the FCC did not take the lead on security, and called on industry to blaze a trail. He explained that the FCC could step in if necessary, but is not in the best position to be at the head.
"I won't pretend to be an expert on national security... But I suspect the reason you invited me today is because I do pretend to know a little something about networks, and our cyber security challenge is network-based," he said.
"I want to address how stakeholders in the communications sector – the sector on which all aspects of the digital economy depend – must create a new paradigm for cyber readiness. This begins with private-sector leadership that recognises how easily cyber threats cross corporate and national boundaries."
Wheeler said that the private digital sector should take "responsibility and accountability" for managing cyber threats and risks. He called on industry to be more dynamic and cease its reliance on external forces for guidance.
"The challenge is that this private sector-led effort must be more dynamic than traditional regulation and more measurably effective than blindly trusting the market or voluntary best practices to defend our country," he added.
"The new paradigm for the communications sector must be real and meaningful. It has to work. The Commission's commitment to market accountability will help ensure that it does work. And, while I am confident that it will work, we must be ready with alternatives if it doesn't."
There is a balance to be made, and Wheeler said that the FCC could "rely" on industry and the market's responses to regulation before acting further.
"Basically it boils down to this: identify public goals, work with the affected stakeholders in the communications industry to achieve those goals, and let that experience inform whether there is any need for next steps," he added.
"Everybody in this room understands that tackling the challenges of cybersecurity will require a joint effort. That means collaboration within the federal government; collaboration between federal, state and local governments, collaboration between the US and foreign governments; collaboration between government and the private sector; and even inter- and intra-industry collaboration.
Wheeler said that the FCC's role in network security is "fundamental", but explained that it cannot keep up with technological advances and needs external involvement.
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