Computer Security Act of 1987
In 1987, the U.S. Congress, led by Rep. Jack Brooks, enacted a law reaffirming that the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), a division of the Department of Commerce, was responsible for the security of unclassified, non-military government computer systems. Under the law, the role of the National Security Agency (NSA) was limited to providing technical assistance in the civilian security realm. Congress rightly felt that it was inappropriate for a military intelligence agency to have control over the dissemination of unclassified information.
The law was enacted after President Reagan issued the controversial National Security Decision Directive (NSDD) 145 in 1984. The Reagan directive gave NSA control over all government computer systems containing “sensitive but unclassified” information. This was followed by a second directive issued by National Security Advisor John Poindexter that extended NSA authority over non-government computer systems.
Since the enactment of the