Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and the chairmen of the seven Senate committees with jurisdiction over cybersecurity introduced a measure this week that recognizes the need to act to secure the nation from cyber attacks and calls on the Obama administration and lawmakers to enact legislation.
The non-binding legislation appears to set a marker for future cybersecurity legislation. It calls on Congress to enact and the president to sign "bipartisan legislation to secure the United States against cyber attack, to enhance American competitiveness and create jobs in the information technology industry, and to protect the identities and sensitive information of American citizens and businesses."
The measure outlines 10 areas that should be addressed by this still-to-come legislation.
They include enhancing the "security and resiliency" of the U.S. government's networks from cyber attacks; incentivizing the private sector to "quantify, asses"s, and mitiate cyber risks to their communications and information networks;" improving the ability of the federal government and private sector to assess cyber risks and prevent, detect, and robustly respond to cyber attacks; improving protections for U.S. critical infrastructure; and bolstering the tools for investigating and preventing cyber crimes.
In a statement announcing the legislation, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John (Jay) Rockefeller, D-W.Va., and Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., pledged to pick up where they left off in the last Congress on the issue.
Their committees both approved separate cybersecurity bills last year but were unable to mesh their measures into one piece of legislation. In addition, Lieberman complained late last year about the failure of the Obama administration to engage on the issue until late in the 111th Congress.
"Last Congress we made great, bipartisan strides towards passing such legislation, and I'm pleased the Cyber Security and American Cyber Competiveness Act will build on that progress," Lieberman said. He also called on the administration to "engage in the legislative process as soon as possible."
Several other bills addressing other issues highlighted by the Senate nonbinding bill also were introduced in the last Congress.
The Business Software Alliance Thursday called the measure a good step forward. "For several years, we have worked very closely and constructively with both parties in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate to advance legislation that protects our nation's cybersecurity. We look forward to continuing to do so," BSA President and CEO Robert Holleyman said in a statement.