Just one week after President Obama published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal advising Congress to pass cybersecurity legislation to avoid “growing danger,” the Senate on Thursday voted to move forward with a bill attempting to address the issues at hand.
In an 84-11 vote, senators motioned to advance a revised version of the Cybersecurity Act of 2012, a bill that has seen its share of heated debates on the Hill and within the industry this year.
Co-sponsored by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Cali.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.), the amended legislation aims to offer incentives to the private sector for voluntarily meeting cybersecurity standards set by the government. Previous versions of the bill would have mandated such standards.
But according to reports, the US Chamber of Commerce and other organizations cannot get behind any version of the bill. Expressing its concerns over the legislation, the chamber advised the Senate to take time to consider other options.
“The chamber believes that, at a minimum, more time is needed for the Senate to more fully assess this deeply flawed proposal,” the organization said in a letter, according to the National Journal. “While the program is being characterized as ‘voluntary,’ and participating entities may receive limited protection from punitive damages resulting from a cyber incident, the standards could be used to impose new obligations on participating companies.”
Despite the opposition, the legislation gained continued support this week from the White House and several key players within the industry.
“The Administration strongly supports Senate passage of S. 3414, the Cybersecurity Act of 2012,” the White House wrote in a statement. “While lacking some of the key provisions of earlier bills, the revised legislation will provide important tools to strengthen the Nation’s response to cybersecurity risks.”
Microsoft, Oracle, Cisco, CA Technologies, EMC/RSA, the Information Technology Industry Council and the National Defense Industrial Association have also expressed support for the legislation.
The Senate is expected to debate and vote on the bill’s proposed amendments next week.