Senators introduce bill to strengthen cybersecurity of local governments

Senators introduce bill to strengthen cybersecurity of local governments
© Greg Nash

A bipartisan group of senators on Wednesday introduced legislation intended to shore up cybersecurity for local governments by providing resources for them to switch to secure internet domains administered by the federal government.

The bill, dubbed the DOTGOV Online Trust in Government Act, would not require local governments to switch their domains to .gov, but would require the Department of Homeland Security to provide resources and assistance to local governments that do intend to make the switch.

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Cyber criminals have spoofed local government websites due to some governments not using .gov addresses, which can trick individuals or businesses into sharing personal information with what they think is a secure government website.

Most federal and state governments websites already use the .gov domain, which is administered by the federal General Services Administration (GSA), but many local governments do not.

The bill is sponsored by Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGraham vows Biden, Ukraine probe after impeachment trial GOP warns of 'drawn out' executive privilege battle over Bolton testimony  Senate Republicans confident they'll win fight on witnesses MORE (R-Wis.) as well as Sen. Gary PetersGary Charles PetersHillicon Valley: Biden calls for revoking tech legal shield | DHS chief 'fully expects' Russia to try to interfere in 2020 | Smaller companies testify against Big Tech 'monopoly power' Bipartisan group of senators introduces legislation to boost state cybersecurity leadership The Hill's Morning Report — President Trump on trial MORE (Mich.), the panel's top Democrat, along with Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharDes Moines Register endorses Elizabeth Warren as Democratic presidential nominee Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for week two of impeachment trial Moore defends Sanders's reputation: 'We don't want the fake, and the phony and the fraudulent' MORE (D-Minn.) and James LankfordJames Paul LankfordSchiff sparks blowback with head on a 'pike' line Schiff closes Dems' impeachment arguments with emotional appeal to remove Trump Senate Republicans confident they'll win fight on witnesses MORE (R-Okla.).

Peters noted in a statement that “local governments are responsible for safeguarding citizens’ personal data, from social security numbers and credit card information to detailed medical records,” adding that the bill would assist in protecting personal information.

Johnson said in a separate statement that the bill “will ensure state, local, tribal, and territorial governments have greater access to a trusted domain and Department of Homeland Security resources, ultimately increasing the security of their websites in today’s ever-changing cyber threat landscape.”

Various officials at the state level came out in favor of the bill on Wednesday, including Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D), who described it as a way to “boost public confidence and strengthen the security of government systems.”