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 JohnsonGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy White House releases rough transcript of early Trump-Ukraine call minutes before impeachment hearing Johnson opens door to subpoenaing whistleblower, Schiff, Bidens MORE (R-Wis.) as well as Sen. Gary PetersGary Charles PetersAdvocates step up efforts for horse racing reform bill after more deaths Warren doubles down — to Democrats' chagrin, and Trump's delight Senators urge Trump to fill vacancies at DHS MORE (Mich.), the panel's top Democrat, along with Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharNew poll catapults Buttigieg to frontrunner position in Iowa Election 2020: Why I'm watching Amy and Andy 2020 Democrats demand action on guns after Santa Clarita shooting MORE (D-Minn.) and James LankfordJames Paul LankfordSenate GOP waves Trump off early motion to dismiss impeachment charges On The Money: Lawmakers dismiss fears of another shutdown | Income for poorest Americans fell faster than thought | Net employment holds steady in September | Groups press Senate on retirement bill Lawmakers dismiss fresh fears of another government shutdown 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.”