Lawmakers Push for .Gov Domains for Local Governments

Lawmakers have expressed fears that a mixed bag of domain names for local governments can promote “spoofing” and lead to cyberattacks. A bipartisan group of lawmakers has introduced legislation to bring all government domains under the “.gov” system to denote official government information.

Federal and state agencies tend to use .gov to end their web addresses to signal users that they are receiving information from an official government source. Across local government, web addresses can end in “.com,” “.org,” or “.us” depending on the creator’s preference. The difference allows internet criminals to create imposter websites mirroring government websites to trick the public into providing their information to the offender.

Route Fifty reports examples of “look alike” department of motor vehicle sites, where people can get scammed out of cash, or have personal information stolen, and artificial elections websites that might direct people to the wrong polling place.

“Anyone can get on a .com, .us, and we’ve seen a lot of instances of spoofing,” said Matt Pincus, Director of Government Affairs for the National Association of State Chief Information Officers told Route Fifty. “From a citizen perspective, not being on .gov is really creating confusion.”

Therefore, a bipartisan group of lawmakers including Senators Gary Peters (D-MD), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and James Lankford (R-OK) introduced a bill to provide requirements for the .gov domain this week.

The “DOTGOV Online Trust in Government Act,” introduced last week, directs the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, or CISA, to take new steps to help counties, cities, and other jurisdictions transition to the .gov domain.

The legislation would also transfer responsibility of the DotGov Program from the U.S. General Services Administration to CISA. The program offers .gov web addresses to government organizations throughout the country.


The Senate last week approved a package of appropriations measures to fund the departments of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture, Interior, Commerce, Justice, and other agencies. The chamber, however, rejected a second “minibus” that included funding for the departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, and Labor due to Democratic concerns over funding for barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border, abortion-related policy riders, and other issues. 

The Senate-passed legislation differs from the House appropriations packages for the same agencies. The House and Senate will have to go to conference to work out the discrepancies. Some lawmakers have indicated an additional continuing resolution is on the horizon if the two chambers fail to reach an agreement before the current resolution expires on November 21. The president announced this week he has not ruled out another government shutdown.

Posted in From the Hill



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