White House pushes for stalled cybersecurity bill

Several senators have called for an amendment to address privacy concerns

It's urgent for the U.S. Senate to pass a cybersecurity bill now stalled because of opposition from several lawmakers, officials from the U.S. White House said Wednesday.

Four White House officials called on the Senate to pass the revised Cybersecurity Act, a bill that would create a new mechanism for businesses to share cyberthreat information with each other and with government agencies.

The bill would also create a new intra-agency council to work with private companies to develop cybersecurity standards that businesses could voluntarily adopt. The bill would offer incentives to companies that volunteer for cybersecurity programs, including protection from lawsuits related to cyberincidents and increased help and information on cybersecurity issues from U.S. agencies.

It's "imperative" for the Senate to pass comprehensive cybersecurity legislature, John Brennan, assistant to President Barack Obama for homeland security and counterterrorism, said during a press briefing. The bill would give cybersecurity professional the "tools they need to deal with this increasingly sophisticated and pervasive threat," he added.

The Cybersecurity Act is held up in the Senate over disagreements over what amendments should be allowed to the bill. Several Republicans have opposed the bill, sponsored by Senators Joseph Lieberman, a Connecticut Independent, Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, and three Democrats.

The bill would hand too much authority to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican, said last week.

The bill "would do very little to improve our country's national security," he said. "In fact, in its present form, I believe the bill before us would do more to harm our country's economy and expand the size and influence of the federal government -- specifically the Department of Homeland Security -- than anything else."

Other Republicans are asking for the Senate leadership to allow a vote on the Affordable Care Act, a controversial health-care bill, in exchange for a vote on the cybersecurity bill.

Senator Mark Udall, a Colorado Democrat, criticized Republicans for holding up the bill. "I believe the bill is long overdue, and we simply cannot afford not to act," he said on the Senate floor Wednesday.

Another group of senators, mostly Democrats, have pushed for an amendment to remove provisions that would allow ISPs and other Web companies to monitor their customers' online activities and take countermeasures against cyberthreats. The provision would protect the ISPs and other companies against customer privacy lawsuits.

Fifteen senators, led by Senator Al Franken, a Minnesota Democrat, are pushing for the amendment. The bill, as written, would violate Internet users' privacy, Franken said.

"Americans shouldn't have to worry that their Internet service providers are snooping in their e-mail or accessing the files on their computer for the wrong reasons," Franken said in a statement. "While the Cybersecurity Act does a lot to protect the privacy of American consumers, it also contains provisions that would hurt consumer privacy by allowing ISPs and other companies to monitor email and deploy countermeasures indiscriminately."

But the White House officials said the bill would help protect the U.S. from cyberattacks. "The nation's security is at risk," Brennan said.

"It literally keeps me awake at night thinking the Senate won't act on this," added Eric Rosenbach, deputy assistant secretary of defense for cyber policy.

Supporters of the bill are hoping to force a vote on the bill yet this week.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?