August 15, 2016
In a digital age that’s becoming increasingly dependent on computer systems and wireless networks, the Federal Communications Commission will have to become more involved in promoting cybersecurity through regulation, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a speech last night.
“The national security has never been more closely connected to our networks – and thus the activities of the Commission – than it is today,” Wheeler said at the Aspen Institute’s Communication Policy Conference in Colorado. “Attacks are not just the provenance of nation-states; our networks can be assaulted by anyone with a connection. As the agency responsible for the nation’s networks, the FCC cannot ignore this reality.”
The FCC has been using the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s cybersecurity framework and a “multi-stakeholder forum” to collaborate with network providers and establish network security standards and procedures. But the agency has encouraged firms to prioritize cybersecurity.
“While the FCC does not impose specific regulations, thus allowing the technology to evolve as rapidly as possible, we work with industry to inspect the implementation of the agreed-to policies while maintaining the ability to step in with regulation if necessary,” Wheeler said, adding that the agency’s action in opening up high-frequency bands of airwaves to help build 5G networks showed the importance of cybersecurity regulations going forward.
The rules require that new network design “must deal with cyber from the outset,” Wheeler said. “In this new network that will drive the 21st century, cybersecurity will be a forethought, not an afterthought.”