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Dan Webster's Small Business Cybersecurity Proposal Signed into Law

August 16, 2018 - 9:30am
Dan Webster
Dan Webster

U.S. Rep. Dan Webster, R-Fla., scored a win this week as President Donald Trump signed his bill to help small businesses with cybersecurity.

Back in March 2017, from his perch on the U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, Webster brought out the “NIST Small Business Cybersecurity Act” which would have the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) work with other federal agencies to create guidelines to help small businesses beef up their cybersecurity. The bill ensures small businesses can follow the guidelines on a voluntary basis and will come out of already existing funds. 

“This bill will provide small businesses in my district, state and across the country with the tools they need to meet the threats and challenges of the modern world,” Webster said on Tuesday after Trump signed the bill. “These small businesses are more susceptible to attacks due to the limited access to the tools they need to prepare for such an event.

“As the owner of a multi-generational small business, I know what small businesses can accomplish when equipped and empowered with the right tools,” Webster added. “Recently, when my own business was attacked, I experienced the havoc a hacker can cause and the importance of cybersecurity. I thank President Trump for swiftly signing this bill into law.”

Webster had the support of U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, who chairs the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. 

“Small businesses account for more than half of all U.S. jobs, including nearly four and a half million in my home state of Texas,” Smith said after the bill passed the House back in October. “While many small businesses do not have the expertise to protect their computer systems and confidential information, it is crucial to our economy and our citizens’ security that these businesses secure their data. Congressman Webster’s NIST Small Business Cybersecurity Act helps achieve this goal by using NIST’s global cybersecurity expertise and requiring NIST to provide small businesses with guidance on identifying risks of cyber-attacks. October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month and it is appropriate that Congress consider legislation to protect small businesses from cybersecurity attacks.”

Other supporters include the two representatives who lead the House Research and Technology Subcommittee: Chairwoman Barbara Comstock, R-Va., and ranking Democrat U.S. Rep. Daniel Lipinski of Illinois. Florida Republican U.S. Reps. Neal Dunn and Bill Posey were also co-sponsors. 

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, had a similar bill in the Senate which had the support of U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-SD, and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., as cosponsors. 

“Cyberattacks are happening against computer systems, large and small, whether they are operated by a multi-billion dollar corporation or a small utility in rural Florida," Nelson said when Schatz brought out the bill back in February 2017. “This bill will provide valuable guidance to small businesses to help them fight against hackers who seek to bring down their networks or steal information about their customers.” 


What most people don’t understand is that Google, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter don’t have the right you and I and most corporations have to take sides in the political debate – at least not in the work they do online. They gave that right away when they accepted immunization from legal liability, under the Communications Decency Act, from activities conducted on their platforms. For instance, they can’t be sued or prosecuted for defamation, libel, or indeed for any criminal activity that takes place in their online domains. They got those privileges by agreeing to serve as mere “carriers” of data – in other words, as utilities, like the old phone company. Therefore they can’t be held responsible for conversations, postings, or other online materials that involve illegal or otherwise dubious actors. However, they also accepted another responsibility in order to qualify for that special protected status. They implicitly agreed to be neutral – not to provide favor to one political viewpoint or another, not to favor left-wing media over right-wing media, not to inhibit the freedom of speech of those with whom they might disagree – even disagree strongly. But Google and Facebook do those things all day long, every day – in fact, every micro-second – by means of the algorithms they have established, based on their careful programming that boosts the Huffington Post and Daily Beast at the expense of WND and Breitbart. What this clearly demonstrates is that the Internet Cartel is already in violation of the Communications Decency Act. By using its special “utility” status to promote partisan politics, adopt a consistent left-wing lens in its presentation of the news, banning content objectionable to the anti-Christian bigots at the Southern Poverty Law Center and using algorithms in search and display that punish conservatives, Republicans and other non-leftists, the cartel members abuse their special status as a mere “carriers” of data. Since Congress created this monster, it’s time for Congress to fix it.

I hope U.S. Rep. Dan Webster, R-Fla knows something about computers.

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