Cybersecurity Bill Compromise Could Be on the Way

Latest legislation may represent middle ground in online security debate.

by / July 9, 2012

Industry groups expect impending legislation may cool intense debate in the U.S. Senate over the best method to improve America’s cyberhealth in the digital age.  

Sens. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., will push a bipartisan cybersecurity bill forward in the coming days that some call an acceptable alternative to the Cybersecurity Act, a White House-endorsed measure that authorizes the Department of Homeland Security to set mandatory security standards for critical infrastructure.

Republicans have balked at the Cybersecurity Act’s requirements for businesses. The language, they say, would divert the private sector’s attention from improving their internal network security in order to meet federal mandates.

This latest compromise bill could appease both sides with a middle ground, but the details are being kept under wraps for now. But the road won’t be easy. Industry groups criticized an earlier draft of Kyl and Whitehouse’s bill for being too regulatory.

The draft from Kyl and Whitehouse is the latest in long line of bills that have been passed around in Congress in recent months. A group of Republican senators, led by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is sponsoring a different bill, the Strengthening and Enhancing Cybersecurity by Using Research, Education, Information, and Technology Act (SECURE IT), that focuses on information sharing between the public and private sectors instead of regulation.

This past spring, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) passed in the House, but President Obama vowed to veto it for lacking sufficient critical infrastructure provisions.

For now, all eyes are on what the latest version of Kyl and Whitehouse’s bill will entail.