U.S. seeks input to build its own Internet

The U.S. government revealed this week that it is looking into building its own Internet, dubbed GOVNET, to ensure the safe transmission of sensitive government communication.

Just one day after Richard Clarke was appointed to the newly created post of Special Advisor to the President for Cyberspace Security Tuesday, Clarke enlisted the help of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) to gather information from the U.S. telecommunication industry about the development of a special telecom network.

GSA is a central management agency that provides equipment and services to the government.

The agency posted a Request for Information (RFI) on its site, saying that it would hold information exchange meetings with potential respondents on the project.

The key feature of GOVNET, the agency said in a release, “is that it must be able to perform functions with no risk of penetration or disruption from users on other networks, such as the Internet.”

The government wants GOVNET to be a private voice and data network based on Internet Protocol (IP), but with no connectivity with commercial or public networks, GSA said.

In the RFI, the government says that the network should have commercial-grade voice communication capabilities, and the potential for adding video, as well as the ability to support critical government functions.

Most importantly, the government Net should be “immune from malicious service and/or functional disruptions” and all computer viruses, the RFI states.

Although cybersecurity has garnered greater attention since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. – which led to the immediate appointment of a Special Advisor – Clarke claimed that planning for the network has been going on for several months.

The deadline for responses to the information request is Nov. 21.

The GSA, located in Washington, D.C., is at http://www.gsa.gov/.

The GOVNET information request is at http://www.fts.gsa.gov/govnet.doc/.

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