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Executive Order from Pres. Obama designed to improve cybersecurity

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Amarillo, TX -- Our national security is at constant risk and more needs to be done to protect it, according to the President.

Just a few hours before the State of the Union Address, President Obama signed an executive order aimed at beefing up the nation's online security.  The order calls for a nationalized framework to standardize cybersecurity measures and information-sharing between private and public entities.  And while civil libertarians say privacy concerns could be an issue, the order stipulates that agencies incorporate privacy safeguards, which would be regularly reviewed.

Mr. Obama announced the order in his address Tuesday (Feb. 12th), saying, "We cannot look back years from now and wonder why we did nothing in the face of real threats to our security and our economy. And that's why earlier today I signed a new executive order that will strengthen our cyber defenses by increasing information sharing, and developing standards to protect our national security, our jobs, and our privacy."

In the last year, we've seen attacks on our nation's electrical grid, the FBI, and of course, banks, which are subject to constant attacks.

Representative Mac Thornberry is head of a Task Force created two years ago to find ways to strengthen cybersecurity, and he tells me the order is a huge step towards doing so, but legislation would carry more authority.

"The executive order is not enough," says Thornberry, "Congress still needs to act, and only when Congress acts will we really make progress on cybersecurity."

Critics have raised concerns about privacy and civil liberties, but the order mandates agencies provide safeguards against violations.

Critics of the power of executive order itself say it allows presidents to circumvent congressional approval.  However, only two executive orders have ever been overturned by U.S. courts - Harry S. Truman's order to desegregate the armed forces in 1948, and Bill Clinton's 1995 order to prevent the federal government from contracting with organizations who had strike-breakers on the payroll.

If you'd like to see an overview of the order or read the latest cyberspace policy review from the White House, follow the links attached to this story.