Cybersecurity and Executive Power

David W. Opderbeck

Seton Hall University - School of Law

March 16, 2011

Seton Hall Public Law Research Paper No. 1788333

This article analyzes the Constitutional authority of the U.S. President to shut down or limit public access to the Internet in a time of national emergency. The threats posed by cybercrime, cyberwarfare, and cyberterrorism are significant. It is imperative that national governments and international policymakers develop defenses and contingency plans for such attacks. At the same time, the threats to civil liberties posed by current legislative cybersecurity proposals are equally real. Executive power to disrupt Internet access in the name of security can become as potent a weapon against democracy as a hacker’s attempt to take down the power grid. In light of these threats, this article examines current cybersecurity proposals in Congress and explains why they are in many ways misguided. It then examines the Constitutional law of Presidential power against the backdrop of recent efforts by Congress and the Executive to regulate cyberspace. The article concludes with a proposed cybersecurity policy matrix, which could help courts and policymakers manage the difficult Constitutional and policy tensions raised by the problem of cybersecurity.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 43

Keywords: Internet, cybersecurity, computer crime, constitutional law, non-delegation doctrine, executive power, presidential power, kill switch

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Date posted: March 19, 2011  

Suggested Citation

Opderbeck, David W., Cybersecurity and Executive Power (March 16, 2011). Seton Hall Public Law Research Paper No. 1788333. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1788333 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1788333

Contact Information

David W. Opderbeck (Contact Author)
Seton Hall University - School of Law ( email )
One Newark Center
Newark, NJ 07102-5210
United States
973-642-8496 (Phone)
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