After much hoopla and delay, there may be a path forward for cybersecurity legislation to pass the US Congress. As you well know, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) passed the House some time ago, controversially. Since then, the Senate has been struggling to pass anything that could be reconciled with CISPA, and sent to the President for his signature.
Now, however, there appears to be a potential way forward. Interestingly, the leading bill in the Senate, the Lieberman-Collins bill, is not what may break the logjam. Instead, a bill backed by Senators Whitehouse and Kyl today received an endorsement of sorts from Senators Snowe and Warner, giving it a firm boost.
With those four Senators on board, pushing it forward, the bill could end up receiving a floor vote in the Senate. Senator Lieberman has made cybersecurity bills the hallmark of his last year in Congress, as he moves towards retirement. However, as he is the author of the other bill that is considered to be a frontrunner, if he will throw up strong resistance to the Kyl-Whitehouse bill is unknown.
Here’s the current difference between the two bills that has people in arms: the Lieberman bill has mandated standards for the protection of critical infrastructure. The Kyle bill does not, and instead leans on incentives to induce companies to amp up their security. That may sound like a niggling difference, but to many in Congress, the addition of extra regulation, which mandated standards would be, is utter anathema and therefore unacceptable.
Thus the bills are sitting in the Senate, with little hope of either passing in very short order. However, according to Senator Lieberman, either a bill moves forward in July, or the whole thing will have to wait until after the coming elections. That means that one of these bills will either move forward in the coming weeks, or cybersecurity will be a 2013 affair at the soonest.
For the opponents of CISPA, that could be exactly what they want. However, not all share their sentiments. For now, however, there is a crack of light in the previously closed door of cybersecurity legislation in the United States.
Top Image Credit: Carol Atlantica