With more than a dozen related bills in Congress, cybersecurity has become a pressing policy topic. Several of these bills would give federal regulators the power to mandate how private sector networks are secured. But do private networks really need to be told how to protect themselves? If there’s no market failure for the government to correct, then shouldn’t private networks be left to secure themselves? Having direct knowledge of their systems, they are surely better equipped than outsiders—and should have the greatest incentives—to do so. This briefing paper explains what a market failure is and how the concept applies to cybersecurity.
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