BRUSSELS May 6 A small European Union agency
that monitors Internet security should have its term extended to
see if and how it can deal with cyber attacks such as the one
suffered by bloc member Estonia, EU lawmakers said on Tuesday.
The European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA)
was set up in 2004 and its term is due to end in March 2009.
EU states have suggested extending the agency's term by
three years, and the EU assembly's industry committee signalled
backing for this -- provided ENISA's role is rethought.
Lawmakers said ENISA had no remit to deal with cyber attacks
such as that experienced by Estonia last year, when the Baltic
state accused Russia of causing government websites to crash.
"I cannot see that this body is capable of doing this. It
was never given the role to do this. It's more about information
sharing, opening channels," said Erika Mann, a German socialist.
The agency is based in Heraklion, Greece and has only 50
staff, half of whom are involved in administration.
Euro-MPs believe Internet infrastructure security must be
protected more effectively as the EU economy depends
increasingly on a trouble-free Web.
"A lot of staff are simply pushing papers, making reports
and not doing what we need them to do. It's something you might
see in the Soviet Union. There is an increase in network
security problems," said Reino Paasilinna, a Finnish socialist.
German liberal Alexander Alvaro said an agency that
guaranteed network security was needed.
"ENISA is not able to do all that is necessary to guarantee
our security. Member states have throttled it. It only has 50
staff with half doing administration," he said.
"We need a body with wider scope if we are serious about
tackling cyber attacks," Alvaro added.
Angelika Niebler, the German centre-right chair of the
committee, said that "As a parliament we will have to put our
heads together and think how ENISA should be organised or
whether we can tackle network security in another way."
"There is a majority position in committee, general support
for a three-year extension so we will go for that. We will look
at staff, allocation of tasks and structure," Niebler said.
Endorsement by full parliament is due in June or July.
The European Commission had proposed a two-year extension,
but a Commission official told the committee a three-year
extension was acceptable and would encourage a needed in-depth
debate on network security at European level.
Lawmakers said they rejected attempts by the Commission to
fold ENISA into a new pan-EU telecoms regulatory body the
Commission has proposed setting up.
(Editing by Tim Pearce)