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[ISN] HSD seeks to secure data it gets from the private sector


By Wilson P. Dizard III 
GCN Staff

The Homeland Security Department has proposed rules under which it 
would protect systems information it receives from the private sector. 

The proposed rule explicitly applies to hardware and software that 
makes up critical-infrastructure systems. The government relies on 
many such systems, such as private voice and data networks, for its 
daily operations. 

Companies have been wary of submitting information to the department 
for several reasons, including the possibility that their competitors 
could access commercially important data. Some members of Congress and 
privacy advocates criticized the enacted version of the Homeland 
Security Act of 2002 as including excessively broad exemptions from 
the Freedom of Information Act for such information. 

The proposed rule-making notice, issued Tuesday, is aimed at 
implementing the Critical Infrastructure Information Act of 2002, 
which appears in Subtitle B of Title II of the Homeland Security Act. 

That law calls for HSD to shield from the public the information that 
the private sector submits. 

The proposed rule would apply to all federal agencies that receive 
such information, according to the notice published in the Federal 
Register. Under the rule-making proposal, the procedures also would 
apply to state, local and foreign governments as well as government 

The proposal calls for Homeland Security to safeguard the information 
in secure systems or locations and to impose that requirement on any 
other agencies or contractors to which it discloses the information. 

Under the proposal, private-sector organizations could specify 
information to be exempted from FOIA requests. The department could 
deny organizations? designation of information as 
critical-infrastructure and return it. 

The proposed rule calls for a program manager of critical- 
infrastructure information. Among other duties, the official would 
report any losses of critical-infrastructure data to the department?s 
inspector general, its Information Analysis and Infrastructure 
Protection Directorate and the organization that submitted the 

Comments on the proposal are due June 16. The department will accept 
comments at cii.regcomment@xxxxxxxx 

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