Cybersecurity News Round-Up: Senate has Work to Do as House Passes Three Cyber Bills

Cybersecurity

The House last week passed three bills aimed at strengthening the nation’s cybersecurity.

The Federal Information Security Amendments Act of 2013 (H.R. 1163) and the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act (H.R. 756) both passed the House on Tuesday, with the news nearly flying under the radar, as passage of the controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) stole much of the cyber spotlight.

The Federal Information Security Amendments Act of 2013, which passed unanimously on a 416-0 vote, would “make agency heads responsible for cybersecurity within their agencies and require each one to have a chief information security officer,” according to FierceGovernmentIT.

Passing by a vote of 402-16, the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act “ would establish a task force with representatives from the federal government, private sector and academia to coordinate research and development and improve training of cyber professionals,” according to NextGov.

But as both bills were referred to Senate committees for consideration, all eyes remained on CISPA, which passed the House on Thursday on a 288-127 vote.

Aiming to enhance cyber threat information sharing between the public and private sectors, critics of CISPA argued that the bill could place privacy and civil liberties in peril.

Ahead of Thursday’s vote, the White House released a statement threatening to veto CISPA.

“The Administration believes that carefully updating laws to facilitate cybersecurity information sharing is one of several legislative changes essential to protect individuals’ privacy and improve the Nation’s cybersecurity,” advised the Executive Office of the President in a statement.

“However, the Administration still seeks additional improvements and if the bill, as currently crafted, were presented to the President, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.”

Despite the veto threat and looming privacy concerns, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), co-sponsor of the legislation, remained enthusiastic Thursday evening after CISPA passed the House.

“I am very proud that so many of my colleagues were able to look past the distortions and fear mongering about this bill, and see it for what it really is – a very narrow and focused authority to share cybersecurity threat information to keep America safe,” Rogers said in a statement. “I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues to get cyber threat information sharing legislation passed into law this year.”

But the Senate has its work cut out, according to reports.

“The Senate isn’t as far along on legislation as it was last Congress and has opted to press the re-set button on its cybersecurity efforts after it struggled to pass a comprehensive bill twice last year,” a Senate aide told The Hill.

It goes without saying, if cybersecurity legislation sees a repeat of last year, President Obama won’t have to worry about stepping in with his veto power.

Michelle Kincaid is a DC-based public affairs professional specializing in technology policy. She is creator of the blog CybersecurityNews.org.

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