Senate Bill Boosting Cybersecurity for Infrastructure Providers Expected Soon

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
Oct. 9, 2013, 11:02 a.m.

A Sen­ate pan­el is “very close” to un­veil­ing cy­ber­se­cur­ity le­gis­la­tion aimed at help­ing and en­cour­aging crit­ic­al-in­fra­struc­ture pro­viders — in­clud­ing nuc­le­ar-power plants — to share more cy­ber-threat data with each oth­er and the gov­ern­ment, a top Re­pub­lic­an said Tues­day, ac­cord­ing to The Hill news­pa­per.

Sen­at­or Saxby Cham­b­liss (R-Ga.), the rank­ing mem­ber on the Sen­ate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee, said at a cy­ber­se­cur­ity con­fer­ence in Wash­ing­ton that his pan­el is fi­nal­iz­ing a bill akin to the Cy­ber In­tel­li­gence Shar­ing and Pro­tec­tion Act, which the Re­pub­lic­an-led House passed in April. Sen­ate Demo­crats largely balked at that House le­gis­la­tion and the White House threatened to veto it, char­ging it would not sig­ni­fic­antly pro­tect cit­izens’ data pri­vacy.

Cham­b­liss non­ethe­less said he and In­tel­li­gence pan­el Chair­wo­man Di­anne Fein­stein (D-Cal­if.) are pro­ceed­ing with their sim­il­ar le­gis­la­tion, and cur­rently are hash­ing out the fi­nal de­tails, ac­cord­ing to The Hill. The GOP sen­at­or said he and Fein­stein have worked with Rep­res­ent­at­ives Mike Ro­gers (R-Mich.) and Dutch Rup­pers­ber­ger (D-Md.), who craf­ted the CISPA, in hopes of en­sur­ing if the Sen­ate bill passes the full cham­ber that it can be re­con­ciled with the House plan.

At the cy­ber con­fer­ence, sponsored by Politico, Cham­b­liss in­dic­ated a stick­ing point mem­bers of the Sen­ate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee are still de­bat­ing: if and how their bill will grant im­munity pro­tec­tion to com­pan­ies that share cy­ber-threat data with the gov­ern­ment, ac­cord­ing to Politico. Cham­b­liss fur­ther said the Sen­ate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee’s bill will call for es­tab­lish­ing a gov­ern­ment portal for the cy­ber-threat data com­ing from the private sec­tor, which likely would be part of the Home­land Se­cur­ity De­part­ment. However, he said he wants the Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Agency to have ac­cess to the private-sec­tor in­form­a­tion  — something that could alarm pri­vacy ad­voc­ates.

“You can’t have pro­tec­tion from a cy­ber­se­cur­ity stand­point without the NSA be­ing in­teg­rally in­volved,” Cham­b­liss re­portedly said. “I mean, they’re the ex­perts.”

Cham­b­liss and oth­er law­makers said at the Tues­day New­seum event lamen­ted that the pace of cy­ber­se­cur­ity le­gis­la­tion has slowed on Cap­it­ol Hill since former NSA con­tract­or Ed­ward Snowden leaked in­tel­li­gence doc­u­ments re­gard­ing the agency’s wide­spread sur­veil­lance activ­it­ies.

Rep­res­ent­at­ive Jim Langev­in (D-R.I.) said he sus­pec­ted law­makers would not ad­dress sig­ni­fic­ant cy­ber­se­cur­ity le­gis­la­tion this year. “It’s very dif­fi­cult at this point,” he told Politico, “giv­en the gov­ern­ment shut­down and what happened as a res­ult” of Snowden.

Pres­id­ent Obama in Feb­ru­ary signed an ex­ec­ut­ive or­der in­ten­ded to im­ple­ment some as­pects of a cy­ber­se­cur­ity bill that died in the Sen­ate last year, which the U.S. Cham­ber of Com­merce ar­gued would have led to ex­cess­ive reg­u­la­tions on com­pan­ies. Obama’s ex­ec­ut­ive or­der calls for gov­ern­ment and in­dustry of­fi­cials to craft vol­un­tary cy­ber-threat stand­ards, and an early draft of them is due Oct. 12, ac­cord­ing to Politico.

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