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Congress

Supporters Of Competing Cybersecurity Bills Prepare For Debate

March 1, 2012

Sponsors of the 2012 Cybersecurity Act are trying to round up support for their bill as several Republican committee leaders plan to introduce competing cybersecurity proposals.

After complaining about both the substance and the process for considering the Cybersecurity Act, six Republican senators are scheduled to formally unveil their own bill on Thursday. They say it will rely on incentives and tools like research, education, information, and technology rather than regulation to improve cybersecurity in the United States.

"The fundamental difference in our alternative approach is that we aim to enter into a cooperative relationship with the entire private sector through information sharing, rather than an adversarial one with prescriptive regulations," one of the GOP bill's sponsors, Armed Services Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., said when announcing the bill earlier this month.

The four main sponsors of the Cybersecurity Act said they welcomed the new proposals, but they pushed back at concerns that the process is moving too fast.

"Some of our colleagues recently wrote you asking that you delay consideration of this critical legislation, claiming that the Senate is not prepared to debate on the Senate floor how best to address cybersecurity and that further study and process is necessary to ensure that all the views of all members are considered," Homeland Security Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn.; the committee's ranking member, Susan Collins, R-Main; Commerce Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.; and Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., wrote in a letter to Senate leaders on Wednesday.

"Given the extensive and exhaustive bipartisan and multi-committee process through which [the Cybersecurity Act] was created, and the serious nature of the cyberthreat to our national security, we wholeheartedly disagree."

A spokesman for Rockefeller said while new ideas are welcome, the sponsors of the Cybersecurity Act don't think incentives are enough.

"We are glad to see other Senators recognize the severity of this threat and the need to protect the country's infrastructure from malicious and dangerous cyber attacks," he said. "We're still convinced that you can't get there without some new rules but we're eager for the debate to begin."

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