TNW’s coverage of the cybersecurity debacle has been a wide-ranging series on the issues, merits, dangers, and setbacks of the issue. It’s also been a bit more political in nature than our usual fare, frankly. I’m taking this aside to say that the very instant Congress unsticks its gears and finishes being jammed, we get to wrap up the topic. In short, we cover this because it matters, not because we enjoy the drama. Thanks for your continued patronage. -TNW
As you certainly recall, we left the cybersecurity debate with the news that senior GOP senators had published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, sniping about the President’s proposed executive order. TNW ran through that note, pointing out several inaccuracies, and gisting the policy standpoints therein.
Following, the actual proposed executive order leaked, and TNW parsed that, noting that it contained little to no conversation on privacy. In the order, it moved power of cybersecurity execution under the head of the Department of Homeland Security, which, neatly, helps give the order potential legal standing.
Now, to today: the letter. In the document, the failure of the Senate is documented. However, the senators state that “the failure of Congress to act should not prevent the executive branch from taking available steps to counter the enormous and growing cyber threat.” What do they have in mind? The letter calls for, you guessed it, the head of the Department of Homeland Security to put together an ‘intra-agency group’ that would develop voluntary standards, in concert with the private sector.
This is either close to, or exactly the same as what the President has proposed. That in mind, the letter is less a policy proposal and more a call for the President to go ahead and pull the trigger on what he has already circulated in the draft.
Despite blaming the very Congress that they are a part of for inaction, the two legislators are hardly undercutting the importance of work by their own branch of government:
“We recognize that an order direction the promulgation of voluntary standards cannot and should not be the final word in cybersecurity.”
In total, I’m not sure if this letter is designed to set pressure on the President to act, or to provide cover of a sort for him to act – pressure from inside his party, etc.
Final thought: Information sharing is going to be a part of any cybersecurity bill that passes. So, privacy gurus, prepare your weapons. Why do I say that? Simple: CISPA (passed the House), the SECURE IT Act (GOP bill in the Senate), the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 (Democratic bill in the Senate), the President’s executive order draft, and even this letter all call for it; everyone on the Hill wants for faster and more information sharing between the public and private sectors. Eventually, it is going to happen.
We’ll close with that:
“Only legislation can replace the existing legal regime – which stifles information sharing[.]”
Top Image Credit: ttarasiuk