GOP candidate Carson pitches new federal cybersecurity agency

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks at the 2016 Kemp Forum on Expanding Opportunity in Columbia, South Carolina, on Jan. 9. (Randall Hill/Reuters)

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Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson laid out plans to establish a special agency of the federal government to protect the nation’s cybersecurity in a new policy document posted on his campaign website Monday.

Calling the current cybersecurity policy “disjointed and ineffective,” the plan pitched a new National Cyber Security Administration — an organization that would identify cyber best practices, create incentives for information sharing between industry and law enforcement, encourage students to pursue math and science careers, research viruses and vulnerabilities, and serve as a resource on digital privacy issues.

The so-called NCSA would not be “a new federal bureaucracy,” but instead consolidate “redundant programs” throughout the government, according to the plan, which is signed by Carson.

“The NCSA will create a unity of purpose, not just across federal agencies, but in cooperation with ‘We the People,’” the plan says. “This will be America’s venue to bring together experts and lay persons towards a common goal of securing the country, from the individual user at home to the highest government official.”

In the plan, Carson compares his vision to that of Democratic President John F. Kennedy when he in 1961 announced his aim to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade, calling on the country to embrace the space race.

“We are in a Cyberspace Race, and we need a leader to present a bold vision to drive American innovation,” the plan says. It adds, “A Carson administration will lead a nationwide effort, not only to secure our nation against cyber attacks, but to make America the unquestioned cyber power on the planet.”

The plan comes out days before the Iowa primary caucus on Feb. 1 — where several polls have Carson, once the Republicans’ national frontrunner, coming in at the single digits. Carson isn’t the first Republican running for a spot on the 2016 presidential ticket to release a cybersecurity plan: former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s plan, released in September, espoused support for the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act and better promotion of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s cybersecurity framework.

The Carson plan says the country’s growing reliance on the Internet underscores the importance of securing its cyber defenses.

“[W]e must be vigilant and proactive in protecting the United States and its citizens from the unique dangers it creates,” Carson’s plan says.

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Cybersecurity, Tech
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