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Telecoms Asked to Devise Cybersecurity Plans

13/06/2014 by


The U.S. federal government’s top telecommunications regulator is proposing a “new regulatory paradigm” by calling on communications providers to step up and assume new responsibilities to manage cyber risks.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler outlined in a June 12 speech his vision for relying on industry and the market as an alternative to implementing new regulations. He described a voluntary initiative to help secure information networks operated by telecommunications companies and Internet service providers.

Wheeler said the new paradigm must be based on private-sector innovation and the alignment of private interests, such as return on investment, with public interests, such as public safety and national security.

“It needs to be more dynamic than rules, and – this is a key point – it needs to be more demonstrably effective than blindly trusting the market,” he said. “… The bottom line is that this new paradigm can’t be ‘happy talk’ about good ideas – it has to work in the real world. We need market accountability on cybersecurity that doesn’t exist today, so that appropriately predictive and proactive investment is made to improve cyber readiness.”

The largest U.S. broadband provider, Comcast, says it and other Internet service providers are up to the task to work with the FCC. “We have and will continue to be committed to taking a leadership role in establishing practices that meet the dynamic and ever-changing nature of these threats,” Myrna Soto, Comcast Cable senior vice president and chief information and infrastructure security officer, says in a statement.

Wheeler, though, hinted that the FCC could adopt cybersecurity regulations if industry fails to adopt effective IT security best practices. “While I am confident that it will work, we must be ready with alternatives if it doesn’t,” he said.

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