Window closing on cybersecurity bill in Congress
'The time remaining to do this is growing short,' Sen. Lieberman tells briefing
June 20, 2012 — CSO — Deadline? What deadline? The deadline for the U.S. Senate to vote on some version of a cybersecurity bill seems to be both amorphous and porous.
Less than two weeks ago, everybody involved was saying if it was going to happen, it would have to be before the end of the Senate's current work period, on June 29.
Majority Leader Harry Reid pledged that he would bring the 2012 Cyber Security Act (CSA), cosponsored by Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) to the floor for a vote sooner than later.
"I put everyone on notice: We are going to move this bill at the earliest possible date," Reid said on the Senate floor. And Lieberman said at the time that he was confident legislation would go to the floor this month.
That was then. By the middle of last week, June had shifted to July. Nicole Johnson, writing in the Federal Times, said Lieberman told reporters at a cyber briefing by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that, "I'm as confident as I can be that this will come up no later than July."
This, said Leslie Phillips, communications director for the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, is just the reality of the Senate. "Originally, Sen. Reid said the bill would come up in the first work period. That didn't happen. Then we thought it would come up in the second. That didn't happen. And so on," she said. "The decision is entirely up to the leader."
Not that there isn't plenty of talk about it. In the past two weeks, Lieberman and Collins hosted a demonstration for fellow senators by the DHS' U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) to show how easily hackers can gain control of a person's computer through spear phishing -- targeted emails crafted to look credible enough to convince an individual to divulge information or open malicious files.
Andrew Couts reported in Digital Trends this week that on the House side, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) said in a panel discussion hosted by The Week magazine that he believes President Obama will sign the legislation he co-sponsored, called the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) if it reaches his desk.
The House passed CISPA by a healthy 248-168 on April 26, but the White House issued a statement before the debate on the bill even started saying no bill would be signed that did not ensure the protection of critical infrastructure systems and guard the privacy of citizens. CISPA did neither, the White House said.