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 JohnsonBiden sidesteps GOP on judicial vacancies, for now The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble Liberal group launches campaign urging Republicans to support Biden's agenda MORE (R-Wis.) as well as Sen. Gary PetersGary PetersHillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Officials want action on cyberattacks Officials urge Congress to consider fining companies that fail to report cyber incidents Senate Democrats announce million investment in key battlegrounds ahead of 2022 MORE (Mich.), the panel's top Democrat, along with Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Officials want action on cyberattacks Senate panel advances antitrust bill that eyes Google, Facebook This week: Democrats face mounting headaches MORE (D-Minn.) and James LankfordJames Paul LankfordBiden sidesteps GOP on judicial vacancies, for now COVID faith: Are your religious views 'sincerely held'? Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Afghan evacuation still frustrates 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.”